The Earl of Beaconsfield
Part 5 out of 11
of Enjoyment. At Ems I shall not be a conjuror: but I never part with my
box. It takes no more room than one of those medicine chests, which I
dare say you have got with you in your carriage, to prop up your couple
of shattered constitutions."
"By Jove! you are a merry, impudent fellow," said the Baron; "and if
you like to get up behind my britzska, you may."
"No; I carry my own box and my own body, and I shall be at Ems to-morrow
in time enough to receive your Lordships."
In a delightful valley of Nassau, formed by the picturesque windings of
the Taunus Mountains, and on the banks of the noisy river Lahn, stands a
vast brick pile, of irregular architecture, which nearly covers an acre
of ground. This building was formerly a favourite palace of the ducal
house of Nassau; but the present Prince has thought proper to let out
the former residence of his family as an hotel for the accommodation of
the company, who in the season frequent this, the most lovely spot in
his lovely little duchy. This extensive building contains two hundred
and thirty rooms and eighty baths; and these apartments, which are under
the management of an official agent, who lives in the "Princely Bathing
House," for such is its present dignified title, are to be engaged at
fixed prices, which are marked over the doors. All the rooms in the
upper story of the Princely Bathing House open on, or are almost
immediately connected with, a long corridor, which extends the whole
length of the building. The ground-floor, besides the space occupied by
the baths, also affords a spacious promenade, arched with stone, and
surrounded with stalls, behind which are marshalled vendors of all the
possible articles which can be required by the necessities of the
frequenters of a watering-place. There you are greeted by the jeweller
of the Palais Royal and the marchande de mode of the Rue de la Paix; the
print-seller from Mannheim and the china-dealer from Dresden; and other
small speculators in the various fancy articles which abound in Vienna,
Berlin, Geneva, Basle, Strasburg, and Lausanne; such as pipes, costumes
of Swiss peasantry, crosses of Mont Blanc crystal, and all varieties of
national bijouterie. All things may here be sold, save those which
administer to the nourishment of the body or the pleasure of the palate.
Let not those of my readers who have already planned a trip to the sweet
vales of the Taunus be frightened by this last sentence. At Ems
"eatables and drinkables" are excellent and abounding; but they are
solely supplied by the restaurateur, who farms the monopoly from the
Duke. This gentleman, who is a pupil of Beauvillier's, and who has
conceived an exquisite cuisine, by adding to the lighter graces of
French cookery something of the more solid virtues of the German,
presides in a saloon of vast size and magnificent decoration, in which,
during the season, upwards of three hundred persons frequent the table
d'hôte. It is the etiquette at Ems that, however distinguished or
however humble the rank of the visitors, their fare and their treatment
must be alike. In one of the most aristocratic countries in the word the
sovereign prince and his tradesman subject may be found seated in the
morning at the same board, and eating from the same dish, as in the
evening they may be seen staking on the same colour at the gaming-table,
and sharing in the same interest at the Redoute.
The situation of Ems is delightful. The mountains which form the valley
are not, as in Switzerland, so elevated that they confine the air or
seem to impede the facility of breathing. In their fantastic forms the
picturesque is not lost in the monotonous, and in the rich covering of
their various woods the admiring eye finds at the same time beauty and
repose. Opposite the ancient palace, on the banks of the Lahn, are the
gardens. In these, in a pavilion, a band of musicians seldom cease from
enchanting the visitors by their execution of the most favourite
specimens of German and Italian music. Numberless acacia arbours and
retired sylvan seats are here to be found, where the student or the
contemplative may seek refuge from the noise of his more gay companions,
and the tedium of eternal conversation. In these gardens, also, are the
billiard-room, and another saloon, in which each night meet, not merely
those who are interested in the mysteries of rouge et noir, and the
chances of roulette, but, in general, the whole of the company, male and
female, who are frequenting the baths. In quitting the gardens for a
moment, we must not omit mentioning the interesting booth of our friend,
the restaurateur, where coffee, clear and hot, and exquisite
confectionery, are never wanting. Nor should we forget the glittering
pennons of the gay boats which glide along the Lahn; nor the handsome
donkeys, who, with their white saddles and red bridles, seem not
unworthy of the princesses whom they sometimes bear. The gardens, with
an alley of limetrees, which are farther on, near the banks of the
river, afford easy promenades to the sick and debilitated; but the more
robust and active need not fear monotony in the valley of the Lahn. If
they sigh for the champaign country, they can climb the wild passes of
the encircling mountains, and from their tops enjoy the most magnificent
views of the Rhineland. There they may gaze on that mighty river,
flowing through the prolific plain which at the same time it nourishes
and adorns, bounded on each side by mountains of every form, clothed
with wood or crowned with castles. Or, if they fear the fatigues of the
ascent, they may wander farther up the valley, and in the wild dells,
romantic forests, and grey ruins of Stein and Nassau, conjure up the old
times of feudal tyranny when the forest was the only free land, and he
who outraged the laws the only one who did not suffer from their
Besides the Princely Bathing House, I must mention that there was
another old and extensive building near it, which, in very full seasons,
also accommodated visitors on the same system as the palace. At present,
this adjoining building was solely occupied by a Russian Grand Duke, who
had engaged it for the season.
Such is a slight description of Ems, a place almost of unique character;
for it is a watering-place with every convenience, luxury, and
accommodation; and yet without shops, streets, or houses.
The Baron and Vivian were fortunate in finding rooms, for the Baths were
very full; the extraordinary beauty of the weather having occasioned a
very early season. They found themselves at the baths early on the
morning after their arrival at Coblentz, and at three o'clock in the
same day had taken their places at the dinner table in the great saloon.
At the long table upwards of two hundred and fifty guests were
assembled, of different nations, and of very different characters. There
was the cunning, intriguing Greek, who served well his imperial master
the Russian. The order of the patron saint of Moscow, and the glittering
stars of other nations which sparkled on his green uniform, told how
well he had laboured for the interest of all other countries except his
own; but his clear, pale complexion, his delicately trimmed mustachio,
his lofty forehead, his arched eyebrow, and his Eastern eye, recalled to
the traveller, in spite of his barbarian trappings, the fine
countenances of the Aegean, and became a form which apparently might
have struggled in Thermopylae. Next to him was the Austrian diplomatist,
the Sosia of all cabinets, in whose gay address and rattling
conversation you could hardly recognise the sophistical defender of
unauthorised invasion, and the subtle inventor of Holy Alliances and
Imperial Leagues. Then came the rich usurer from Frankfort or the
prosperous merchant from Hamburgh, who, with his wife and daughters,
were seeking some recreation from his flourishing counting-house in the
sylvan gaieties of a German bathing-place. Flirting with these was an
adventurous dancing-master from Paris, whose profession at present was
kept in the background, and whose well-curled black hair, diamond pin,
and frogged coat hinted at the magnifico incog, and also enabled him, if
he did not choose in time to follow his own profession, to pursue
another one, which he had also studied, in the profitable mystery of the
Redoute. There were many other individuals, whose commonplace appearance
did not reveal a character which perhaps they did not possess. There
were officers in all uniforms, and there were some uniforms without
officers. But all looked perfectly comme il faut, and on the whole very
select; and if the great persons endeavoured for a moment to forget
their dignity, still these slight improprieties were amply made up by
the affected dignity of those little persons who had none to forget.
"And how like you the baths of Ems?" the Baron asked of Vivian, "We
shall get better seats to-morrow, and perhaps be among those whom you
shall know. I see many friends and some agreeable ones. In the meantime,
you must make a good dinner to-day, and I will amuse you, and assist
your digestion, by putting you up to some of the characters with whom
you are dining."
At this moment a party entered the room, who were rather late in their
appearance, but who attracted the attention of Vivian. The group
consisted of three persons; a very good-looking young man, who supported
on each arm a female. The lady on his right arm was apparently of about
five-and-twenty years of age. She was of majestic stature; her
complexion of untinged purity. Her features were like those conceptions
of Grecian sculptors which, in moments of despondency, we sometimes
believe to be ideal. Her full eyes were of the same deep blue as the
mountain lake, and gleamed from under their long lashes as that purest
of waters beneath its fringing sedge. Her brown light hair was braided
from her high forehead, and hung in long full curls over her neck; the
mass gathered up into a Grecian knot, and confined by a bandeau of
cameos. She wore a dress of black velvet, whose folding drapery was
confined round a waist which was in exact symmetry with the proportions
of her full bust and the polished roundness of her bending neck. The
countenance of the lady was dignified, without any expression of pride,
and reserved, without any of the harshness of austerity. In gazing on
her the enraptured spectator for a moment believed that Minerva had
forgotten her severity, and had entered into a delightful rivalry
Her companion was much younger, not so tall, and of slender form. The
long tresses of her chestnut hair shaded her oval face. Her small,
aquiline nose, bright hazel eyes, delicate mouth, and the deep colour of
her lips, were as remarkable as the transparency of her complexion. The
flush of her cheek was singular; it was of a brilliant pink: you may
find it in the lip of an Indian shell. The blue veins played beneath her
arched forehead, like lightning beneath a rainbow. She was dressed in
white, and a damask rose, half hid in her clustering hair, was her only
ornament. This lovely creature glided by Vivian Grey almost unnoticed,
so fixed was his gaze on her companion. Yet, magnificent as was the
style of Lady Madeleine Trevor, there were few who preferred even her
commanding graces to the softer beauties of Violet Fane.
This party, having passed Vivian, proceeded to the top of the room,
where places had been kept for them. Vivian's eye watched them till they
were lost among surrounding visitors: their peculiar loveliness could
not deceive him.
"English, no doubt," observed he to the Baron; "who can they be?"
"I have not the least idea; that is, I do not exactly know. I think they
are English," answered the Baron, in so confused a manner that Vivian
rather stared. After musing a moment, the Baron recovered himself.
"The unexpected sight of a face we feel that we know, and yet cannot
immediately recognise, is extremely annoying; it is almost agitating.
They are English. The lady in black is Lady Madeleine Trevor; I knew her
"And the gentleman?" asked Vivian: "is the gentleman Mr. Trevor?"
"No; Trevor, poor Trevor, is dead, I think; is, I am sure, dead. That, I
am confident, is not he. He was of the ---- family, and was in office
when I was in England. It was in my diplomatic capacity that I first
became acquainted with him. Lady Madeleine was, and, as you see, is, a
charming woman; a very charming woman is Lady Madeleine Trevor."
"And the young lady with her?"
"And the young lady with her, I cannot exactly say; I do not exactly
know. Her face is familiar to me, and yet I cannot remember her name.
She must have been very young, as you may see, when I was in England;
she cannot now be above eighteen. Miss Fane must therefore have been
very young when I was in England, Miss Fane; how singular I should have
recalled her name! that is her name, Violet Fane, a cousin, or some
relation, of Lady Madeleine: good family. Will you have some soup?"
Whether it were from not being among his friends, or some other cause,
the Baron was certainly not in his usual spirits this day at dinner.
Conversation, which with him was generally as easy as it was brilliant,
like a fountain at the same time sparkling and fluent, was evidently
constrained. For a few minutes he talked very fast, and was then
uncommunicative, absent, and dull. He, moreover, drank a great deal of
wine, which was not his custom; but the grape did not inspire him.
Vivian found amusement in his next neighbour, a forward, bustling man,
clever in his talk, very fine, but rather vulgar. He was the manager of
a company of Austrian actors, and had come to Ems on the chance of
forming an engagement for his troop, who generally performed at Vienna,
He had been successful in his adventure, the Archduke having engaged the
whole band at the New House, and in a few days the troop were to arrive;
at which time the manager was to drop the character of a travelling
gentleman, and cease to dine at the table d'hôte of Ems. From this man
Vivian learnt that Lady Madeleine Trevor had been at the Baths for some
time before the season commenced: that at present hers was the party
which, from its long stay and eminent rank, gave the tone to the
amusements of the place; the influential circle which those who have
frequented watering-places have often observed, and which may be seen at
Ems, Spa, or Pyrmont, equally as at Harrowgate, Tunbridge Wells, or
When dinner was finished the party broke up, and most of them assembled
in the gardens. The Baron, whose countenance had assumed its wonted
cheerfulness, and who excused his previous dulness by the usual story of
a sudden headache, proposed to Vivian to join the promenade. The gardens
were very full, and the Baron recognised many of his acquaintance.
"My dear Colonel, who possibly expected to meet you here? Why! did you
dine in the saloon? I only arrived this morning. This is my friend, Mr.
Grey; Colonel von Trumpetson."
"An Englishman, I believe?" said the Colonel, bowing. He was a starch
militaire, with a blue frock coat buttoned up to his chin, a bald head
with a few grey hairs, and long, thin mustachios like a mandarin's. "An
Englishman, I believe; pray, sir, will you inform me whether the
household troops in England wear the Marboeuf cuirass?"
"Sir!" said Vivian.
"I esteem myself particularly fortunate in thus meeting with an English
gentleman. It was only at dinner to-day that a controversy arose between
Major von Musquetoon and the Prince of Buttonstein on this point. As I
said to the Prince, you may argue for ever, for at present we cannot
decide the fact. How little did I think when I parted from the Major
that in a few minutes I should be able to settle the question beyond a
doubt. I esteem myself particularly fortunate in meeting with an
"I regret to say, Colonel, that the question is one that I cannot
"Sir, I wish you good morning," said the Colonel, very drily; and,
staring keenly at Vivian, he walked away.
"He is good enough to fight, I suppose," said the Baron, with a smile
and shrug of the shoulders, which seemed to return thanks to Providence
for having been educated in the civil service.
At this moment Lady Madeleine Trevor, leaning on the arm of the same
gentleman, passed, and the Baron bowed. The bow was coldly returned.
"You know her Ladyship, then! well!"
"I did know her," said the Baron; "but I see from her bow that I am at
present in no very high favour. The truth is, she is a charming woman,
but I never expected to see her in Germany, and there was some little
commission of hers which I neglected, some little order for Eau de
Cologne, or a message about a worked pocket-handkerchief, which I
utterly forgot: and then, I never wrote! and you know. Grey, that these
little sins of omission are never forgiven by women."
"My dear friend, De Konigstein, one pinch! one pinch!" chirped out a
little old odd-looking man, with a poudré head, and dressed in a costume
in which the glories of the vieille cour seemed to retire with
reluctance. A diamond ring twinkled on the snuffy hand, which was
encircled by a rich ruffle of dirty lace. The brown coat was not
modern, and yet not quite such an one as was worn by its master when he
went to see the King dine in public at Versailles before the Revolution:
large silver buckles still adorned the well-polished shoes; and silk
stockings, whose hue was originally black, were picked out with
clock-work of gold.
"My dear Marquis, I am most happy to see you; will you try the
"With pleasure! A-a-h! what a box! a Louis-Quatorze, I think?"
"Oh, no! by no means so old."
"Pardon me, my dear De Konigstein; I think a Louis-Quatorze."
"I bought it in Sicily."
"A-a-h!" slowly exclaimed the little man, shaking his head.
"Well, good afternoon," said the Baron, passing on.
"My dear De Konigstein, one pinch; you have often said you have a
particular regard for me."
"My dear Marquis!"
"A-a-h! I thought so; you have often said you would serve me, if
"My dear Marquis, be brief."
"A-a-h! I will. There's a cursed crusty old Prussian officer here; one
Colonel de Trumpetson."
"Well, what can I do? you are surely not going to fight him!"
"A-a-h! no, no; I wish you to speak to him."
"He takes snuff."
"What is that to me?"
"He has got a box."
"It is a Louis-Quatorze; could not you get it for me?"
"Good morning to you," said the Baron, pulling on Vivian.
"You have had the pleasure, Grey, of meeting this afternoon two men who
have each only one idea. Colonel von Trumpetson and the Marquis de la
Tabatière are equally tiresome. But are they more tiresome than any
other man who always speaks on the same subject? We are more irritable,
but not more wearied, with a man who is always thinking of the pattern
of a button-hole, or the shape of a snuff-box, than with one who is
always talking about pictures, or chemistry, or politics. The true bore
is that man who thinks the world is only interested in one subject,
because he himself can only comprehend one."
Here Lady Madeleine passed again, and this time the Baron's eyes were
fixed on the ground.
A buzz and a bustle at the other end of the gardens, to which the Baron
and Vivian were advancing, announced the entry of the Grand Duke. His
Imperial Highness was a tall man, with a quick, piercing eye, which was
prevented from giving to his countenance the expression of intellect,
which it otherwise would have done, by the dull and almost brutal effect
of his flat, Calmuck nose. He was dressed in a plain green uniform,
adorned by a single star; but his tightened waist, his stiff stock, and
the elaborate attention which had evidently been bestowed upon his
mustachio, denoted the military fop. The Grand Duke was accompanied by
three or four stiff and stately-looking personages, in whom the severity
of the martinet seemed sunk in the servility of the aide-de-camp.
The Baron bowed very low to the Prince as he drew near, and his
Highness, taking off his cocked-hat with an appearance of cordial
condescension, made a full stop. The silent gentlemen in the rear, who
had not anticipated this suspense in their promenade, almost foundered
on the heels of their royal master; and, frightened at the imminency of
the profanation, forgot their stiff pomp in a precipitate retreat of
half a yard.
"Baron," said his Highness, "why have I not seen you at the New House?"
"I have but this moment arrived, may it please your Imperial Highness."
"Your companion," continued the Grand Duke, pointing very graciously to
"My intimate friend, my fellow-traveller, and an Englishman. May I have
the honour of presenting Mr. Grey to your Imperial Highness?"
"Any friends of the Baron von Konigstein I shall always feel great
pleasure in having presented to me. Sir, I feel great pleasure in having
you presented to me. Sir, you ought to be proud of the name of
Englishman; sir, the English are a noble nation; sir, I have the highest
respect for the English nation!"
Vivian of course bowed very low; and of course made a very proper speech
on the occasion, which, as all speeches of that kind should be, was very
dutiful and quite inaudible.
"And what news from Berlin, Baron? let us move on," and the Baron turned
with the Grand Duke. The silent gentlemen, settling their mustachios,
followed in the rear. For about half an hour, anecdote after anecdote,
scene after scene, caricature after caricature, were poured out with
prodigal expenditure for the amusement of the Prince, who did nothing
during the exhibition but smile, stroke his whiskers, and at the end of
the best stories fence with his forefinger at the Baron's side, with a
gentle laugh, and a mock shake of the head, and a "Eh! Von Konigstein,
you're too bad!" Here Lady Madeleine Trevor passed again, and the Grand
Duke's hat nearly touched the ground. He received a most gracious bow.
"Finish the story about Salvinski, Baron, and then I will present you
for a reward to the most lovely creature in existence, a countrywoman of
your friend, Lady Madeleine Trevor."
"I have the honour of a slight acquaintance with her," said the Baron;
"I had the pleasure of knowing her in England."
"Indeed! Fortunate mortal! I see she has stopped, talking to some
stranger. Let us turn and join her."
The Grand Duke and the two friends accordingly turned, and of course the
silent gentlemen in the rear followed with due precision.
"Lady Madeleine!" said the Grand Duke, "I flattered myself for a moment
that I might have had the honour of presenting to you a gentleman for
whom I have a great esteem; but he has proved to me that he is more
fortunate than myself, since he had the honour before me of an
acquaintance with Lady Madeleine Trevor."
"I have not forgotten Baron von Konigstein," said her ladyship, with a
serious air. "May I ask his Highness how he prospered in his negotiation
with the Austrian troop?"
"Perfectly successful! Inspired by your Ladyship's approbation, my
steward has really done wonders. He almost deserves a diplomatic
appointment for the talent which he has shown; but what should I do
without Cracowsky? Lady Madeleine, can you conceive what I should do
"Not in the least."
"Cracowsky is everything to me. It is impossible to say what Cracowsky
is to me. I owe everything to Cracowsky. To Cracowsky I owe being here."
The Grand Duke bowed very low, for this eulogium on his steward also
conveyed a compliment to her Ladyship. The Grand Duke was certainly
right in believing that he owed his summer excursion to Ems to his
steward. That wily Pole regularly every year put his Imperial master's
summer excursion up to auction, and according to the biddings of the
proprietors of the chief baths did he take care that his master
regulated his visit. The restaurateur of Ems, in collusion with the
official agent of the Duke of Nassau, were fortunate this season in
having the Grand Duke knocked down to them.
"May I flatter myself that Miss Fane feels herself better?" asked the
"She certainly does feel herself better, but my anxiety about her does
not decrease. In her illness apparent convalescence is sometimes as
alarming as suffering."
The Grand Duke continued by the side of Lady Madeleine for about twenty
minutes, seizing every opportunity of uttering, in the most courtly
tone, inane compliments; and then trusting that he might soon have her
Ladyship's opinion respecting the Austrian troop at the New House, and
that Von Konigstein and his English friend would not delay letting him
see them there, his Imperial Highness, followed by his silent suite,
left the gardens.
"I am afraid Lady Madeleine must have almost mistaken me for a taciturn
lord chamberlain," said the Baron, occupying immediately the Grand
Duke's vacated side.
"Baron von Konigstein must be very changed if silence be imputed to him
as a fault," said Lady Madeleine.
"Baron von Konigstein is very much changed since last he had the
pleasure of conversing with Lady Madeleine Trevor; more changed than she
will perhaps believe; more changed than he can sometimes himself
believe. I hope that he will not be less acceptable to Lady Madeleine
Trevor because he is no longer rash, passionate, and unthinking; because
he has learnt to live more for others and less for himself."
"Baron von Konigstein does indeed appear changed, since, by his own
account, he has become, in a very few years, a being in whose existence
philosophers scarcely believe, a perfect man."
"My self-conceit has been so often reproved by you, that I will not
apologise for a quality which I almost flattered myself I no longer
possessed; but you will excuse, I am sure, one who, in zealous haste to
prove himself amended, has, I fear, almost shown that he has
Some strange thoughts occurred to Vivian while this conversation was
taking place. "Is this a woman to resent the neglect of an order for Eau
de Cologne? My dear Von Konigstein, you are a very pleasant fellow, but
this is not the way men apologise for the non-purchase of a
"Have you been long at Ems?" inquired the Baron, with an air of great
"Nearly a month: we are travelling in consequence of the ill-health of a
relation. It was our intention to have gone on to Pisa, but our
physician, in consequence of the extreme heat of the summer, is afraid
of the fatigue of travelling, and has recommended Ems. The air between
these mountains is very soft and pure, and I have no reason to regret at
present that we have not advanced farther on our journey."
"The lady who was with your party at dinner is, I fear, your invalid.
She certainly does not look like one. I think," said the Baron, with an
effort, "I think that her face is not unknown to me. It is difficult,
even after so many years, to mistake Miss--"
"Fane," said Lady Madeleine, firmly; for it seemed that the Baron
required a little assistance at the end of his sentence.
"Ems," returned his Excellency, with great rapidity of utterance, "Ems
is a charming place, at least to me. I have, within these few years,
quite recurred to the feelings of my boyhood; nothing to me is more
disgustingly wearisome than the gay bustle of a city. My present
diplomatic appointment at Frankfort ensures a constant life among the
most charming scenes of nature. Naples, which was offered to me, I
refused. Eight years ago, I should have thought an appointment at Naples
a Paradise on earth."
"You must indeed be changed."
"How beautiful is the vicinity of the Rhine! I have passed within these
three days, for almost the twentieth time in my life, through the
Rheingau; and yet how fresh, and lovely, and novel, seemed all its
various beauties! My young travelling companion is enthusiastic about
this gem of Germany. He is one of your Ladyship's countrymen. Might I
take the liberty of presenting to you Mr. Grey?"
Lady Madeleine, as if it could now no longer be postponed, introduced to
the two gentlemen her brother, Mr. St. George. This gentleman, who,
during the whole previous conversation, had kept his head in a
horizontal position, looking neither to the right nor to the left, and
apparently unconscious that any one was conversing with his sister,
because, according to the English custom, he was not introduced, now
suddenly turned around, and welcomed his acquaintance with cordiality.
"Mr. Grey," asked her Ladyship, "are you of Dorsetshire?"
"My mother is a Dorsetshire woman; her family name is Vivian, which name
I also bear."
"Then I think we are longer acquainted than we have been introduced. I
met your father at Sir Hargrave Vivian's last Christmas. He spoke of you
in those terms that make me glad that I have met his son. You have been
long from England, I think?"
"Nearly a year and a half."
"The Baron had resigned his place by Lady Madeleine, and was already in
close conversation with Mr. St. George, from whose arm Lady Madeleine's
was disengaged. No one acted the part of Asmodeus with greater spirit
than his Excellency; and the secret history of every person whose secret
history could be amusing delighted Mr. St. George.
"There," said the Baron, "goes the son of an unknown father; his mother
followed the camp, and her offspring was early initiated in the
mysteries of military petty larceny. As he grew up he became the most
skilful plunderer that ever rifled the dying of both sides. Before he
was twenty he followed the army as a petty chapman, and amassed an
excellent fortune by re-acquiring after a battle the very goods and
trinkets which he had sold at an immense price before it. Such a wretch
could do nothing but prosper, and in due tune the sutler's brat became a
commissary-general. He made millions in a period of general starvation,
and cleared at least a hundred thousand dollars by embezzling the shoe
leather during a retreat. He is now a baron, covered with orders, and
his daughters are married to some of our first nobles. There goes a
Polish Count who is one of the greatest gamblers in Christendom. In the
same season he lost to a Russian general, at one game of chess, his
chief castle and sixteen thousand acres of woodland; and recovered
himself on another game, on which he won of a Turkish Pasha one hundred
and eighty thousand leopard skins. The Turk, who was a man of strict
honour, paid the Count by embezzling the tribute in kind of the province
he governed; and as on quarter-day he could not, of course, make up his
accounts with the Divan, he joined the Greeks."
While the Baron was entertaining Mr. St. George, the conversation
between Lady Madeleine and Vivian proceeded.
"Your father expressed great disappointment to me at his being prevented
paying you a visit. Do you not long to see him?"
"More than I can express. Did you think him in good spirits?"
"Generally so: as cheerful as all fathers can be without their only
"Did he complain, then, of my absence?"
"He regretted it."
"I linger in Germany with the hope of seeing him; otherwise I should
have now been much further south. Do you find Sir Hargrave as amusing
"When is he otherwise than the most delightful of old men? Sir Hargrave
is one of my great favourites. I should like to persuade you to return
and see them all. Cannot you fancy Chester Grange very beautiful now?
Albert!" said her Ladyship, turning to her brother, "what is the number
of our apartments? Mr. Grey, the sun has now disappeared, and I fear the
night air among these mountains. We have hardly yet summer nights,
though we certainly have summer days. We shall be happy to see you at
our rooms." So saying, bowing very cordially to Vivian and coldly to the
Baron, Lady Madeleine left the gardens.
"There goes the most delightful woman in the world," said the Baron;
"how fortunate that you know her! for really, as you might have
observed, I have no great claims on her indulgent notice. I was
certainly very wild in England; but then young men, you know, Grey! and
I did not leave a card, or call, before I went; and the English are
very stiff and precise about those things; and the Trevors had been very
kind to me. I think we had better take a little coffee now; and then, if
you like, we will just stroll into the REDOUTE."
In a brilliantly-illuminated saloon, adorned with Corinthian columns and
casts from some of the most famous antique statues, assembled, between
nine and ten o'clock in the evening, many of the visitors at Ems. On
each side of the room was placed a long narrow table, one of which was
covered with green baize, and unattended; while the variously-coloured
leathern surface of the other was closely surrounded by an interested
crowd. Behind this table stood two individuals of different appearance.
The first was a short, thick man, whose only business was dealing
certain portions of playing cards with quick succession one after the
other: and as the fate of the table was decided by this process, did his
companion, a very tall, thin man, throw various pieces of money upon
certain stakes, which were deposited by the bystanders on different
parts of the table; or, which was much oftener the case, with a silver
rake with a long ebony handle, sweep into a large inclosure near him the
scattered sums. This inclosure was called the Bank, and the mysterious
ceremony in which these persons were assisting was the celebrated game
of rouge-et-noir. A deep silence was strictly preserved by those who
immediately surrounded the table; no voice was heard save that of the
little, short, stout dealer, when, without an expression of the least
interest, he seemed mechanically to announce the fate of the different
colours. No other sound was heard, except the jingle of the dollars and
Napoleons, and the ominous rake of the tall, thin banker. The
countenances of those who were hazarding their money were grave and
gloomy: their eyes were fixed, their brows contracted, and their lips
projected; and yet there was an evident effort visible to show that they
were both easy and unconcerned. Each player held in his hand a small
piece of pasteboard, on which, with a steel pricker, he marked, the run
of the cards, in order, from his observations, to regulate his own play.
The rouge-et-noir player imagines that chance is not capricious. Those
who were not interested in the game promenaded in two lines within the
tables, or, seated in recesses between the pillars, formed small parties
"I suppose we must throw away a dollar or two," said the Baron, as he
walked up to the table.
"My dear De Konigstein, one pinch!"
"Ah! Marquess, what fortune to-night?"
"Bad! I have lost my Napoleon: I never risk further. There is that
cursed crusty old De Trumpet son, persisting, as usual, in his run of
bad luck; because he never will give in. Trust me, my dear De
Konigstein, it will end in his ruin; and then, if there be a sale of his
effects, I shall, perhaps, get his snuff-box; a-a-h!"
"Come, shall I throw down a couple of Napoleons on joint account. I do
not care much for play myself; but I suppose, at Ems, we must make up
our minds to lose a few Louis. Here! now, for the red; joint
"There's the Grand Duke! Let us go and make our bow; we need, not stick
at the table as if our whole soul were staked with our crown-pieces," So
saying, the gentlemen walked up to the top of the room.
"Why, Grey! Surely no, it cannot be, and yet it is. De Boeffleurs, how
d'ye do?" said the Baron, with a face beaming with joy and a hearty
shake of the hand. "My dear fellow, how did you manage to get off so
soon? I thought you were not to be here for a fortnight: we only arrived
"Yes; but I have made an arrangement which I did not anticipate; and so
I posted after you at once. Whom do you think I have brought with me?"
"Ah! And the Count?"
"Follows immediately. I expect him to-morrow or next day. Salvinski is
talking to the Grand Duke; and see, he beckons to me. I suppose I am
going to be presented."
The Chevalier moved forward, followed by the Baron and Vivian.
"Any friend of Prince Salvinski I shall always have great pleasure in
having presented to me. Chevalier, I feel great pleasure in having you
presented to me. Chevalier, you ought to be proud of the name of
Frenchman. Chevalier, the French are a great nation. Chevalier, I have
the highest respect for the French nation."
"The most subtile diplomatist," thought Vivian, as he recalled to mind
his own introduction, "would be puzzled to decide to which interest his
Imperial Highness leans."
The Grand Duke now entered into conversation with the Prince, and most
of the circle who surrounded him. As his Imperial Highness was
addressing Vivian, the Baron let slip our hero's arm, and, taking that
of the Chevalier de Boeffleurs, began walking up and down the room with
him, and was soon engaged in animated conversation. In a few minutes the
Grand Duke, bowing to his circle, made a move, and regained the side of
a Saxon lady, from whose interesting company he had been disturbed by
the arrival of Prince Salvinski; an individual of whose long stories and
dull romances the Grand Duke had, from experience, a particular dread:
but his Highness was always very courteous to the Poles.
"Grey, I have despatched De Boeffleurs to the house, to instruct his
servant and Ernstorff to do the impossible, in order that our rooms may
be all together. You will be delighted with De Boeffleurs when you know
him, and I expect you to be great friends. By-the-bye, his unexpected
arrival has quite made us forget our venture at rouge-et-noir. Of course
we are too late now for anything; even if we had been fortunate, our
stake, remaining on the table, is, of course, lost: we may as well,
however, walk up." So saying, the Baron reached the table.
"That is your Excellency's stake! that is your Excellency's stake!"
exclaimed many voices as he came up.
"What is the matter, my friends?" asked the Baron, calmly.
"There has been a run on the red! there has been a run on the red! and
your Excellency's stake has doubled each time. It has been 4, 8, 16, 32,
64, 128, 256, and now it is 512!" quickly rattled a little thin man in
spectacles, pointing at the same time to his unparalleled line of
punctures. This was one of those officious, noisy little men who are
always ready to give you unasked information, and who are never so happy
as when they are watching over the interest of some stranger, who never
thanks them for their unnecessary solicitude.
Vivian, in spite of his philosophy, felt the excitement of the moment.
He looked at the Baron, whose countenance, however, was unmoved.
"It seems," said he, coolly, "we are in luck."
"The stake, then, is not all your own?" eagerly asked the little man in
"No; part of it is yours, sir," answered the Baron, drily.
"I am going; to deal," said the short, thick man behind. "Is the board
"Your Excellency, then, allows the stake to remain?" inquired the tall,
thin banker, with affected nonchalance.
"Oh! certainly," said the Baron, with real nonchalance.
"Three, eight, fourteen, twenty-four, thirty-four. Rouge 34--"
All crowded nearer; the table was surrounded five or six deep, for the
wonderful run of luck had got wind, and nearly the whole room were round
the table. Indeed, the Grand Duke and Saxon lady, and of course the
silent suite, were left alone at the upper part of the room. The tall
banker did not conceal his agitation. Even the short, stout dealer
ceased to be a machine. All looked anxious except the Baron. Vivian
looked at the table; his Excellency watched, with a keen eye, the little
dealer. No one even breathed as the cards descended. "Ten, twenty (here
the countenance of the banker brightened), twenty-two, twenty-five,
twenty-eight, thirty-one; noir 31. The bank's broke: no more play
tonight. The roulette table opens immediately."
In spite of the great interest which had been excited, nearly the whole
crowd, without waiting to congratulate the Baron, rushed to the opposite
side of the room, in order to secure places at the roulette fable.
"Put these five hundred and twelve Napoleons into a bag," said the
Baron, "Grey, this is your share. With regard to the other half, Mr.
Hermann, what bills have you got?"
"Two on Gogel of Frankfort for two hundred and fifty each, and these
twelve Napoleons will make it right," said the tall banker, as he opened
a large black pocket-book, from which he took out two small bits of
paper. The Baron examined them, and after having seen them endorsed, put
them into his pocket, not forgetting the twelve Napoleons; and then
taking Vivian's arm, and regretting extremely that he should have the
trouble of carrying such a weight, he wished Mr. Hermann a very good
night and success at his roulette, and walked with his companion quietly
home. Thus passed a day at Ems!
On the following morning, Vivian met with his friend Essper George,
behind a small stall in the Bazaar.
"Well, my Lord, what do you wish? Here are Eau de Cologne, violet soap,
and watch-ribbons; a smelling bottle of Ems crystal; a snuff-box of
fig-tree wood. Name your price: the least trifle that can be given by a
man who breaks a bank must be more than my whole stock-in-trade
"I have not paid you yet, Essper, for my glass chain. There is your
share of my winnings, the fame of which, it seems, has reached even
you!" added Vivian, with no pleased air.
"I thank you, sir, for the Nap; but I hope I have not offended by
alluding to a certain event, which shall be passed over in silence,"
continued Essper George, with a look of mock solemnity. "I really think
you have but a faint appetite for good fortune. They deserve her most
who value her least."
"Have you any patrons at Ems, Essper, that have induced you to fix on
this place in particular for your speculations? Here, I should think,
you have many active rivals," said Vivian, looking round the
"I have a patron here who has never deceived, and who will never desert
me; I want no other; and that's myself. Now here comes a party: could
you just tell me the name of that tall lady now?"
"If I tell you it is Lady Madeleine Trevor, what will it profit you?"
Before Vivian could well finish his sentence Essper had drawn out a long
horn from beneath his small counter, and sounded a blast which echoed
through the arched passages. The attention of every one was excited, and
no part of the following speech was lost:--
"The celebrated Essper George, fresh from Fairyland, dealer in pomatum
and all sorts of perfumery, watches, crosses, Ems crystal, coloured
prints, Dutch toys, Dresden china, Venetian chains, Neapolitan coral,
French crackers, chamois bracelets, tame poodles, and Cherokee
corkscrews, mender of mandolins and all other musical instruments, to
Lady Madeleine Trevor, has just arrived at Ems, where he only intends to
stay two or three days, and a few more weeks besides. Now, gracious
lady, what do you wish?"
"And who," said Lady Madeleine, smiling, "is this?"
"The celebrated Essper George, just--" again commenced the conjuror; but
Vivian prevented the repetition.
"He is an odd knave. Lady Madeleine, that I have met with before, at
other places, I believe I may add an honest one. What say you, Essper?"
"More honest than moonlight, gracious lady, for that deceives every one;
and less honest than self-praise, for that deceives no one."
"My friend, you have a ready wit."
"My wit is like a bustling servant, gracious lady; always ready when not
wanted, and never present at a pinch."
"Come, I must have a pair of your chamois bracelets. How sell you them?"
"I sell nothing; all here is gratis to beauty, virtue, and nobility: and
these are my only customers."
"Thanks will not supply a stock-in-trade though, Essper," said Vivian.
"Very true! but my customers are apt to leave some slight testimonies
behind them of the obligations which they are under to me; and these, at
the same time, are the prop of my estate and the proof of their
discretion. But who comes here?" said Essper, drawing out his horn. The
sight of this instrument reminded Lady Madeleine how greatly the effect
of music is heightened by distance, and she made a speedy retreat,
yielding her place to a family procession of a striking character.
Three daughters abreast, flanked by two elder sons, formed the first
file. The father, a portly, prosperous-looking man, followed, with his
lady on his arm. Then came two nursery maids, with three children,
between the tender ages of five and six. The second division of the
grand army, consisting of three younger sons, immediately followed. This
was commanded by a tutor. A governess and two young daughters then
advanced; and then came the extreme rear, the sutlers of the camp, in
the persons of two footmen in rich liveries, who each bore a basket on
his arm, filled with various fancy articles, which had been all
purchased during the promenade of this nation through only part of
The trumpet of Essper George produced a due effect upon the great party.
The commander-in-chief stopped at his little stall, and, as if this were
the signal for general attack and plunder, the files were immediately
broken up. Each individual dashed at his prey, and the only ones who
struggled to maintain a semblance of discipline were the nursery maids,
the tutor, and the governess, who experienced the greatest difficulty in
suppressing the early taste which the detachment of light infantry
indicated for booty. But Essper George was in his element: he joked, he
assisted, he exhibited, he explained; tapped the cheeks of the children
and complimented the elder ones; and finally, having parted at a
prodigious profit, with nearly his whole, stock, paid himself out of a
large and heavy purse, which the portly father, in his utter inability
to comprehend the complicated accounts and the debased currency, with
great frankness deposited in the hands of the master of the stall,
desiring him to settle his own claims.
"I hope I may be allowed to ask after Miss Fane," said Vivian.
"She continues better; we are now about to join her in the Limewalk. If
you will join our morning stroll, it will give us much pleasure."
Nothing in the world could give Vivian greater pleasure; he felt himself
impelled to the side of Lady Madeleine; and only regretted his
acquaintance with the Baron because he felt conscious that there was
some secret cause which prevented that intimacy from existing between
his Excellency and the Trevor party which his talents and his position
would otherwise have easily produced.
"By-the-bye," said Lady Madeleine, "I do not know whether I may be
allowed to congratulate you upon your brilliant success at the Redoute
last night. It is fortunate that all have not to regret your arrival at
Ems so much as poor Mr. Hermann."
"The run was extraordinary. I am only sorry that the goddess should have
showered her favours on one who neither deserves nor desires them; for I
have no wish to be rich; and as I never lost by her caprices, it is
hardly fair that I should gain by them."
"You do not play, then, much?"
"I never played in my life till last night. Gambling has never been one
of my follies, although my catalogue of errors is fuller, perhaps, than
"I think Baron von Konigstein was your partner in the exploit?"
"He was; and apparently as little pleased at the issue as myself."
"Indeed! Have you known the Baron long?"
"We are only friends of a week. I have been living, ever since I was in
Germany, a very retired life. A circumstance of a most painful nature
drove me from England; a circumstance of which I can hardly flatter
myself, and can hardly wish, that you should be ignorant."
"I learnt the sad history from one who, while he spoke the truth, spoke
of the living sufferer in terms of the fondest affection."
"A father!" said Vivian, agitated, "a father can hardly be expected to
"Such a father as yours may, I only wish that he was with us now, to
assist me in bringing about what he must greatly desire, your return
"It cannot be. I look back to the last year which I spent in that
country with feelings of such disgust, I look forward to a return to
that country with feelings of such repugnance that--but I feel I am
trespassing beyond all bounds in touching on these subjects."
"I promised your father that in case we met, I would seek your society.
I have suffered too much myself not to understand how dangerous and how
deceitful is the excess of grief. You have allowed yourself to be
overcome by that which Providence intended as a lesson of instruction,
not as a sentence of despair. In your solitude you have increased the
shadow of those fantasies of a heated brain, which converse with the
pure sunshine of the world would have enabled you to dispel."
"The pure sunshine of the world, Lady Madeleine! would that it had ever
lighted me! My youth flourished in the unwholesome sultriness of a
blighted atmosphere, which I mistook for the resplendent brilliancy of a
summer day. How deceived I was, you may judge, not certainly from
finding me here; but I am here because I have ceased to suffer, only in
having ceased to hope."
"You have ceased to hope, because hope and consolation are not the
companions of solitude, which are of a darker nature. Hope and
consolation spring from the social affections. Converse with the world
will do more for you than all the arguments of philosophers. I hope yet
to find you a believer in the existence of that good which we all
worship and all pursue. Happiness comes when we least expect it, and to
those who strive least to obtain it; as you were fortunate yesterday at
the Redoute, when you played without an idea of winning."
They were in the Limewalk: gay sounds greeted them, and Miss Fane came
forward from a light-hearted band to welcome her cousin. She had to
propose a walk to the New Spring, which she was prepared for Lady
Madeleine to resist on the ground of her cousin's health. But Miss Fane
combated all the objections with airy merriment, and with a bright
resource that never flagged. As she bent her head slightly to Vivian,
ere she hastened back to her companions to announce the success of her
mission, it seemed to him that he had never beheld so animated and
beaming a countenance, or glanced upon a form of such ineffable and
"You would scarcely imagine, Mr. Grey, that we are travelling for my
cousin's health, nor do her physicians, indeed, give us any cause for
serious uneasiness; yet I cannot help feeling at times great anxiety.
Her flushed cheek and the alarming languor which succeeds any excitement
make me fear her complaint may be more deeply seated than they are
willing to acknowledge."
"They were saying the other day that the extraordinary heat of this
season must end in an earthquake, or some great convulsion of nature.
That would bring languor."
"We are willing to adopt any reasoning that gives us hope, but her
mother died of consumption."
When the walking party returned home they found a crowd of idle servants
assembled opposite the house, round a group of equipages, consisting of
two enormous crimson carriages, a britzska, and a large caravan, on all
which vehicles the same coat of arms was ostentatiously blazoned.
"Some new guests!" said Miss Fane.
"It must be the singular party that we watched this morning in the
bazaar," said Lady Madeleine. "Violet! I have such a curious character
to introduce you to, a particular friend of Mr. Grey, who wishes very
much to have the honour of your acquaintance, MR. ESSPER GEORGE."
"These carriages, then, belong to him?"
"Not exactly," said Vivian.
In an hour's time, the party again met at dinner in the saloon. By the
joint exertions of Ernstorff and Mr. St. George's servants, the Baron,
Vivian, and the Chevalier de Boeffleurs were now seated next to the
party of Lady Madeleine Trevor.
"My horses fortunately arrived from Frankfort this morning," said the
Baron. "Mr. St. George and myself have been taking a ride very far up
the valley. Has your Ladyship yet been to the Castle of Nassau?"
"We have not. The expedition has been one of those plans often arranged
and never executed."
"You should go. The ruin is one of the finest in Germany. An expedition
to Nassau Castle would be a capital foundation for a pic-nic. Conceive a
beautiful valley, discovered by a knight, in the middle ages, following
the track of a stag. How romantic! The very incident vouches for its
sweet seclusion. Cannot you imagine the wooded mountains, the old grey
ruin, the sound of the unseen river? What more should we want, except
agreeable company, fine music, and the best provisions, to fancy
ourselves in Paradise?"
"I wish the plan were practicable," said Mr. St. George.
"I take the whole arrangement upon myself; there is not a difficulty.
The ladies shall go on donkeys, or we might make a water excursion of it
part of the way, and the donkeys can meet us at the pass near Stein, and
then the gentlemen may walk; and if you fear the water at night, why
then the carriages may come round: and if your own be too heavy for
mountain roads, my britzska is always at your command. You see there is
not a difficulty."
"Not a difficulty," said Mr. St. George. "Madeleine, we only wait your
"I think we had better put off the execution of our plan till June is a
little more advanced. We must have a fine summer night for Violet."
"Well, then, I hold the whole party present engaged to follow my
standard, whenever I have permission from authority to unfold it," said
the Baron, bowing to Lady Madeleine: "and lest, on cool reflection, I
shall not possess influence enough to procure the appointment, I shall,
like a skilful orator, take advantage of your feelings, which gratitude
for this excellent plan must have already enlisted in my favour, and
propose myself as Master of the Ceremonies." The Baron's eye caught Lady
Madeleine's as he uttered this, and something like a smile, rather of
pity than derision, lighted up her face.
Here Vivian turned round to give some directions to an attendant, and to
his annoyance found Essper George standing behind his chair.
"Is there anything you want, sir?"
"Who ordered you here?"
"In what capacity do you attend?"
"As your servant, sir."
"I insist upon your leaving the room directly."
"Ah! my friend, Essper George," said Lady Madeleine, "are you there?
What is the matter?"
"This, then, is Essper George!" said Violet Fane. "What kind of being
can he possibly be? What indeed is the matter?"
"I am merely discharging a servant at a moment's warning, Miss Fane; and
if you wish to engage his constant attendance upon yourself, I have no
objection to give him a character for the occasion."
"What do you want, Essper?" said Miss Fane.
"Merely to see whether your walk this morning had done your appetites
any good," answered Essper, looking disconsolate; "and so I thought
I might make myself useful at the same time. And though I do not bring
on the soup in a cocked hat, and carve the venison with a
couteau-de-chasse," continued he, bowing very low to Ernstorff, who,
standing stiff behind his master's chair, seemed utterly unaware that
any other person in the room could experience a necessity; "still I can
change a plate or hand the wine without cracking the first, or drinking
"And very good qualities, too!" said Miss Fane. "Come, Essper, you shall
put your accomplishments into practice immediately; change my plate."
This Essper did with dexterity and quiet, displaying at the same time a
small white hand, on the back of which was marked a comet and three
daggers. As he had the discretion not to open his mouth, and performed
all his duties with skill, his intrusion in a few minutes was not only
pardoned but forgotten.
"There has been a great addition to the visitors to-day, I see," said
Mr. St. George. "Who are the new comers?"
"I will tell you all about them," said the Baron. "This family is one of
those whose existence astounds the Continent much more than any of your
mighty dukes and earls, whose fortunes, though colossal, can be
conceived, and whose rank is understood. Mr. Fitzloom is a very
different personage, for thirty years ago he was a journeyman cotton
spinner. Some miraculous invention in machinery entitled him to a
patent, which has made him one of the great proprietors of England. He
has lately been returned a member for a manufacturing town, and he
intends to get over the first two years of his parliamentary career by
successively monopolising the accommodation of all the principal cities
of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and by raising the price of
provisions and post-horses through a track of five thousand miles. My
information is authentic, for I had a casual acquaintance with him in
England. There was some talk of a contract for supplying our army from
England, and I saw Fitzloom often on the subject. I have spoken to him
to-day. This is by no means the first of the species that we have had in
Germany. I can assure you that the plain traveller feels seriously the
inconvenience of following such a caravan; their money flows with such
unwise prodigality that real liberality ceases to be valued; and many of
your nobility have complained to me that in their travels they are now
often expostulated with on account of their parsimony, and taunted with
the mistaken extravagance of a stocking-maker or a porter-brewer."
"What pleasure can such people find in travelling?" wondered Mr. St.
"As much pleasure and more profit than half the young men of the present
day," replied a middle-aged English gentleman, who was a kinsman of the
St. Georges, and called them cousins. "In my time travelling was
undertaken on a very different system to what it is now. The English
youth then travelled to frequent, what Lord Bacon says are 'especially
to be seen and observed, the Courts of Princes.' You all travel now, it
appears, to look at mountains and catch cold in spouting trash on lakes
"But, my dear sir!" said the Baron, "although I grant you that the
principal advantages of travel must be the opportunity which it affords
us of becoming acquainted with human nature, knowledge, of course,
chiefly gained where human beings most congregate, great cities, and, as
you say, the Courts of Princes; still, one of its great benefits is,
that it enlarges a man's experiences, not only of his fellow-creatures
in particular, but of nature in general. Many men pass through life
without seeing a sunrise: a traveller cannot. If human experience be
gained by seeing men in their undress, not only when they are conscious
of the presence of others, natural experience is only to be acquired by
studying nature at all periods, not merely when man is busy and the
"But what is the use of this deep experience of nature? Men are born to
converse with men, not with stocks and stones. He who has studied Le
Sage will be more happy and more successful in this world than the man
who muses over Rousseau."
"I agree with you. I have no wish to make man an anchorite. But as to
the benefit of a thorough experience of nature, it appears to me to be
evident. It increases our stock of ideas."
"So does everything."
"But it does more than this. It calls into being new emotions, it gives
rise to new and beautiful associations; it creates that salutary state
of mental excitement which renders our ideas more lucid and our
conclusions more sound. Can we too much esteem a study which at the same
time stimulates imagination and corrects the judgment?"
"Do not you think that a communion with nature is calculated to elevate
the soul," said Lady Madeleine, "to--?"
"So is reading your Bible. A man's soul should always be elevated. If
not, he might look at mountains for ever, but I should not trust him a
"But, sir," continued the Baron, with unusual warmth, "I am clear that
there are cases in which the influence of nature has worked what you
profess to treat as an impossibility or a miracle. I am myself
acquainted with an instance of a peculiar character. A few years ago, a
gentleman of high rank found himself exposed to the unhappy suspicion of
being connected with some dishonourable transactions which took place in
the highest circles of England. Unable to find any specific charge which
he could meet, he added one to the numerous catalogue of those
unfortunate beings who have sunk in society, the victims of a surmise.
He quitted England, and, disgusted with the world, became the
profligate which he had been falsely believed to be. At the house of
Cardinal ----, at Naples, celebrated for its revels, this gentleman
became a constant guest. He entered with a mad eagerness into every
species of dissipation, although none gave him pleasure, and his
fortune, his health, and the powers of his mind were all fast vanishing.
One night of frantic dissipation a mock election of Master of the Sports
was proposed, and the hero of my tale had the splendid gratification of
being chosen by unanimous consent to this new office. About two o'clock
of the same night he left the palace of the Cardinal, with an intention
of returning; his way on his return led by the Chiaja. It was one of
those nights which we witness only in the south. The blue and brilliant
sea was sleeping beneath a cloudless sky; and the moon not only shed her
light over the orange and lemon trees, which, springing from their green
banks of myrtle, hung over the water, but added fresh lustre to the
white domes and glittering towers of the city, and flooded Vesuvius and
the distant coast with light as far even as Capua. The individual of
whom I am speaking had passed this spot on many nights when the moon was
not less bright, the waves not less silent, and the orange trees not
less sweet; but to-night something irresistible impelled him to stop.
What a contrast to the artificial light and heat and splendour of the
palace to which he was returning! He mused in silence. Would it not be
wiser to forget the world's injustice in gazing on a moonlit ocean than
in discovering in the illumined halls of Naples the baseness of the
crowd which forms the world's power? To enjoy the refreshing luxury of a
fanning breeze which now arose he turned and gazed on the other side of
the bay; upon his right stretched out the promontory of Pausilippo;
there were the shores of Baiae. But it was not only the loveliness of
the land which now overcame his spirit; he thought of those whose fame
had made us forget even the beauty of these shores in associations of a
higher character and a more exalted nature. He remembered the time when
it was his only wish to be numbered among them. How had his early hopes
been fulfilled! What just account had he rendered to himself and to his
country; that country that had expected so much, that self that had
aspired even to more!
"Day broke over the city and found him still pacing the Chiaja; he did
not return to the Cardinal's palace, and in two days he had left Naples.
I can myself, from personal experience, aver that this individual is
now a useful and honourable member of society. The world speaks of him
in more flattering terms."
The Baron spoke with energy and animation. Miss Fane, who had been
silent, and who certainly had not encouraged by any apparent interest
the previous conversation of the Baron, listened to this anecdote with
eager attention; but the effect it produced upon Lady Madeleine Trevor
Soon after this the party broke up. The promenade followed; the Grand
Duke, his compliments, and courtiers; then came the Redoute. Mr. Hermann
bowed low as the gentlemen walked up to the table. The Baron whispered
Vivian that it was "expected" that they should play, and give the tables
a chance of winning back their money. Vivian staked with the
carelessness of one who wishes to lose; as is often the case under such
circumstances, he again left the Redoute a considerable winner. He
parted with the Baron at his Excellency's door and proceeded to the
next, which was his own. Here he stumbled over something at the doorway
which appeared like a large bundle; he bent down with his light to
examine it, and found Essper George lying on his back with his eyes
half-open. It was some moments before Vivian perceived he was asleep;
stepping gently over him, he entered his apartment.
When Vivian rose in the morning a gentle tap at his door announced the
presence of an early visitor, who, being desired to enter, appeared in
the person of Essper George.
"Do you want anything, sir?" asked Essper, with a submissive air.
Vivian stared at him for a moment, and then ordered him to come in.
"I had forgotten, Essper, until this moment, that on returning to my
room last night I found you sleeping at my door. This also reminds me of
your conduct in the saloon yesterday; and as I wish to prevent the
repetition of such improprieties, I shall take this opportunity of
informing you, once for all, that if you do not in future conduct
yourself with more discretion, I must apply to the Maitre d'Hôtel. Now,
sir, what do you want?"
Essper was silent, and stood with his hands crossed on his breast, and
his eyes fixed on the ground.
"If you do not want anything, quit the room immediately."
Here the singular being began to weep.
"Poor fellow!" thought Vivian, "I fear, with all thy wit and pleasantry,
thou art, after all, but one of those capriccios which Nature sometimes
indulges in, merely to show how superior is her accustomed order to
eccentricities, even accompanied with rare powers."
"What is your wish, Essper?" continued Vivian, in a kinder tone. "If
there be any service that I can do you, you will not find me backward.
Are you in trouble? you surely are not in want?"
"No!" sobbed Essper; "I wish to be your servant:" here he hid his face
in his hands.
"My servant! why surely it is not very wise to seek dependence upon any
man. I am afraid that you have been keeping company too much with the
lackeys that are always loitering about these bathing-places,
Ernstorff's green livery and sword, have they not turned your
"No, no, no! I am tired of living alone."
"But remember, to be a servant, you must be a person of regular habits
and certain reputation. I have myself a good opinion of you, but I have
myself seen very little of you, though more than any one here, and I am
a person of a peculiar turn of mind. Perhaps there is not another
individual in this house who would even allude to the possibility of
engaging a servant without a character."
"Does the ship ask the wind for a character when he bears her over the
sea without hire and without reward? and shall you require a character
from me when I request to serve you without wages and without pay?"
"Such an engagement, Essper, it would be impossible for me to enter
into, even if I had need of your services, which at present I have not.
But I tell you frankly that I see no chance of your suiting me. I should
require an attendant of steady habits and experience; not one whose very
appearance would attract attention when I wish to be unobserved, and
acquire a notoriety for the master which he detests. I warmly advise you
to give up all idea of entering into a state of life for which you are
not in the least suited. Believe me, your stall will be a better friend
than a master. Now leave me."
Essper remained one moment with his eyes still fixed on the ground; then
walking very rapidly up to Vivian, he dropped on his knee, kissed his
hand, and disappeared.
Mr. St. George breakfasted with the Baron, and the gentlemen called on
Lady Madeleine early in the morning to propose a drive to Stein Castle;
but she excused herself, and Vivian following her example, the Baron and
Mr. St. George "patronised" the Fitzlooms, because there was nothing
else to do. Vivian again joined the ladies in their morning walk, but
Miss Fane was not in her usual high spirits. She complained more than
once of her cousin's absence; and this, connected with some other
circumstances, gave Vivian the first impression that her feelings
towards Mr. St. George were not merely those of a relation. As to the
Chevalier de Boeffleurs, Vivian soon found that it was utterly
impossible to be on intimate terms with a being without an idea. The
Chevalier was certainly not a very fit representative of the gay,
gallant, mercurial Frenchman: he rose very late, and employed the whole
of the morning in reading the French journals and playing billiards
alternately with Prince Salvinski and Count von Altenburgh.
These gentlemen, as well as the Baron, Vivian, and Mr. St. George, were
to dine this day at the New House.
They found assembled at the appointed hour a party of about thirty
individuals. The dinner was sumptuous, the wines superb. At the end of
the banquet the company adjourned to another room, where play was
proposed and immediately commenced. His Imperial Highness did not join
in the game, but, seated in a corner of the apartment, was surrounded by
his aides-de-camp, whose business was to bring their master constant
accounts of the fortunes of the table and the fate of his bets. His
Highness did not stake.
Vivian soon found that the game was played on a very different scale at
the New House to what it was at the Redoute. He spoke most decidedly to
the Baron of his detestation of gambling, and expressed his
unwillingness to play; but the Baron, although he agreed with him in his
sentiments, advised him to conform for the evening to the universal
custom. As he could afford to lose, he consented, and staked boldly.
This night very considerable sums were lost and won; but none returned
home greater winners than Mr. St. George and Vivian Grey.
The first few days of an acquaintance with a new scene of life and with
new characters generally appear to pass very slowly; not certainly from
the weariness which they induce, but rather from the keen attention
which every little circumstance commands. When the novelty has worn off,
when we have discovered that the new characters differ little from all
others we have met before, and that the scene they inhabit is only
another variety of the great order we have so often observed, we relapse
into our ancient habits of inattention; we think more of ourselves, and
less of those we meet; and musing our moments away in reverie, or in a
vain attempt to cheat the coming day of the monotony of the present one,
we begin to find that the various-vested hours have bounded and are
bounding away in a course at once imperceptible, uninteresting, and
unprofitable. Then it is that, terrified at our nearer approach to the
great river whose dark windings it seems the business of all to forget,
we start from our stupor to mourn over the rapidity of that collective
sum of past-time, every individual hour of which we have in turn
execrated for its sluggishness.
Vivian had now been three weeks at Ems, and the presence of Lady
Madeleine Trevor and her cousin alone induced him to remain. Whatever
the mystery existing between Lady Madeleine and the Baron, his efforts
to attach himself to her party had been successful. The great intimacy
subsisting between the Baron and her brother materially assisted in
bringing about this result. For the first fortnight the Baron was Lady
Madeleine's constant attendant in the evening promenade, and sometimes
in the morning walk; and though there were few persons whose
companionship could be preferred to that of Baron von Konigstein, still
Vivian sometimes regretted that his friend and Mr. St. George had not
continued their rides. The presence of the Baron seemed always to have
an unfavourable influence upon the spirits of Miss Fane, and the absurd
and evident jealousy of Mr. St. George prevented Vivian from finding in
her agreeable conversation some consolation for the loss of the sole
enjoyment of Lady Madeleine's exhilarating presence. Mr. St. George had
never met Vivian's advances with cordiality, and he now treated him with
The visits of the gentlemen to the New House had been frequent. The
saloon of the Grand Duke was open every evening, and in spite of his
great distaste for the fatal amusement which was there invariably
pursued, Vivian found it impossible to decline frequently attending
without subjecting his motives to painful misconception. His
extraordinary fortune did not desert him, and rendered his attendance
still more a duty. The Baron was not so successful as on his first
evening's venture at the Redoute; but Mr. St. George's star remained
favourable. Of Essper Vivian had seen little. In passing through the
bazaar one morning, which he seldom did, he found, to his surprise, that
the former conjuror had doffed his quaint costume, and was now attired
in the usual garb of men of his condition of life. As Essper was busily
employed at the moment, Vivian did not stop to speak to him; but he
received a respectful bow. Once or twice, also, he had met Essper in the
Baron's apartments; and he seemed to have become a very great favourite
with the servants of his Excellency and the Chevalier de Boeffleurs,
particularly with his former butt, Ernstorff, to whom he now behaved
with great deference.
For the first fortnight the Baron's attendance on Lady Madeleine was
constant. After this time he began to slacken in his attentions. He
first disappeared from the morning walks, and yet he did not ride; he
then ceased from joining the party at Lady Madeleine's apartments in the
evening, and never omitted increasing the circle at the New House for a
single night. The whole of the fourth week the Baron dined with his
Imperial Highness. Although the invitation had been extended to all the
gentlemen from the first, it had been agreed that it was not to be
accepted, in order that the ladies should not find their party in the
saloon less numerous or less agreeable. The Baron was the first to break
through a rule which he had himself proposed, and Mr. St. George and the
Chevalier de Boeffleurs soon followed his example.
"Mr. Grey," said Lady Madeleine one evening, as she was about to leave
the gardens, "we shall be happy to see you to-night, if you are
"I fear that I am engaged," said Vivian; for the receipt of some letters
from England made him little inclined to enter into society.
"Oh, no! you cannot be," said Miss Fane: "pray come! I know you only
want to go to that terrible New House. I wonder what Albert can find to
amuse him there; I fear no good. Men never congregate together for any
beneficial purpose. I am sure, with all his gastronomical affectations,
he would not, if all were right, prefer the most exquisite dinner in the
world to our society. As it is, we scarcely see him a moment. I think
that, you are the only one who has not deserted the saloon. For once,
give up the New House."
Vivian smiled at Miss Fane's warmth, and could not persist in his
refusal, although she did dilate most provokingly on the absence of her
cousin. He therefore soon joined them.
"Lady Madeleine is assisting me in a most important work, Mr. Grey. I am
making drawings of the Valley of the Rhine. I know that you are
acquainted with the scenery; you can, perhaps, assist me with your
advice about this view of old Hatto's Castle."
Vivian was so completely master of every spot in the Rhineland that he
had no difficulty in suggesting the necessary alterations. The drawings
were vivid representations of the scenery which they professed to
depict, and Vivian forgot his melancholy as he attracted the attention
of the fair artist to points of interest unknown or unnoticed by the
guide-books and the diaries.
"You must look forward to Italy with great interest, Miss Fane?"
"The greatest! I shall not, however, forget the Rhine, even among the
"Our intended fellow-travellers, Lord Mounteney and his family, are
already at Milan," said Lady Madeleine to Vivian; "we were to have
joined their party. Lady Mounteney is a Trevor."
"I have had the pleasure of meeting Lord Mounteney in England, at Sir
Berdmore Scrope's: do you know him?"
"Slightly. The Mounteneys pass the winter at Rome, where I hope we shall
join them. Do you know the family intimately?"
"Mr. Ernest Clay, a nephew of his Lordship's, I have seen a great deal
of; I suppose, according to the adopted phraseology, I ought to describe
him as my friend, although I am ignorant where he is at present; and
although, unless he is himself extremely altered, there scarcely can be
two persons who now more differ in their pursuits and tempers than
"Ernest Clay! is he a friend of yours? He is at Munich, attached to the
Legation. I see you smile at the idea of Ernest Clay drawing up a
"Madeleine, you have never read me Caroline Mounteney's letter, as you
promised," said Miss Fane; "I suppose full of raptures; 'the Alps and
Apennines, the Pyrenaean and the River Po?'"
"By no means; the whole letter is filled with an account of the ballet
at La Scala, which, according to Caroline, is a thousand times more
interesting than Mont Blanc or the Simplon."
"One of the immortal works of Vigano, I suppose," said Vivian; "he has
raised the ballet of action to an equality with tragedy. I have heard my
father mention the splendid effect of his Vestale and his Otello."
"And yet," said Violet, "I do not like Othello to be profaned. It is not
for operas and ballets. We require the thrilling words."
"It is very true; yet Pasta's acting in the opera was a grand
performance; and I have myself seldom witnessed a more masterly effect
produced by any actor in the world than I did a fortnight ago, at the
Opera at Darmstadt, by Wild in Othello."
"I think the history of Desdemona is the most affecting of all tales,"
said Miss Fane.
"The violent death of a woman, young, lovely, and innocent, is assuredly
the most terrible of tragedies," observed Vivian.
"I have often asked myself," said Miss Fane, "which is the most terrible
destiny for the young to endure: to meet death after a life of anxiety
and suffering, or suddenly to be cut off in the enjoyment of all things
that make life delightful."
"For my part," said Vivian, "in the last instance, I think that death
can scarcely be considered an evil. How infinitely is such a destiny to
be preferred to that long apprenticeship of sorrow, at the end of which
we are generally as unwilling to die as at the commencement!"
"And yet," said Miss Fane, "there is something fearful in the idea of
"Very fearful," muttered Vivian, "in some cases;" for he thought of one
whom he had sent to his great account before his time.
"Violet, my dear!" said Lady Madeleine, "have you finished your drawing
of the Bingenloch?" But Miss Fane would not leave the subject.
"Very fearful in all cases, Mr. Grey. How few of us are prepared to
leave this world without warning! And if from youth, or sex, or natural
disposition, a few may chance to be better fitted for the great change
than their companions, still I always think that in those cases in which
we view our fellow-creatures suddenly departing from this world,
apparently without a bodily or mental pang, there must be a moment of
suffering which none of us can understand; a terrible consciousness of
meeting death in the very flush of life; a moment of suffering which,
from its intense and novel character, may appear an eternity of anguish.
I have always looked upon such an end as the most fearful of
"Violet, my dear." said her Ladyship, "let us talk no more of death. You
have been silent a fortnight. I think to-night you may sing." Miss Fane
rose and sat down to the instrument.
It was a lively air, calculated to drive away all melancholy feelings,
and cherishing sunny views of human life. But Rossini's Muse did not
smile to-night upon her who invoked its gay spirit; and ere Lady
Madeleine could interfere Violet Fane had found more congenial emotions
in one of Weber's prophetic symphonies.
O Music! miraculous art, that makes a poet's skill a jest, revealing to
the soul inexpressible feelings by the aid of inexplicable sounds! A
blast of thy trumpet, and millions rush forward to die; a peal of thy
organ, and uncounted nations sink down to pray. Mighty is thy
First, thou canst call up all elemental sounds, and scenes, and
subjects, with the definiteness of reality. Strike the lyre! Lo! the
voice of the winds, the flash of the lightning, the swell of the wave,
the solitude of the valley!
Then thou canst speak to the secrets of a man's heart as if by
inspiration. Strike the lyre! Lo! our early love, our treasured hate,
our withered joy, our flattering hope!
And, lastly, by thy mysterious melodies thou canst recall man from all
thought of this world and of himself, bringing back to his soul's memory
dark but delightful recollections of the glorious heritage which he has
lost, but which he may win again. Strike the lyre! Lo! Paradise, with
its palaces of inconceivable splendour and its gates of
When Vivian left the apartment of Lady Madeleine he felt no inclination
to sleep, and, instead of retiring to rest, he bent his steps towards
the gardens. It was a rich summer night; the air, recovered from the
sun's scorching rays, was cool, not chilling. The moon was still behind
the mountains; but the dark blue heavens were studded with innumerable
stars, whose tremulous light quivered on the face of the river. All
human sounds had ceased to agitate; and the note of the nightingale and
the rush of the waters banished monotony without disturbing reflection.
But not for reflection had Vivian Grey deserted his chamber: his heart
was full, but of indefinable sensations, and, forgetting the world in
the intenseness of his emotions, he felt too much to think.
How long he had been pacing by the side of the river he knew not, when
he was awakened from his reverie by the sound of voices. He looked up,
and saw lights moving at a distance. The party at the New House had just
broke up. He stopped beneath a branching elm-tree for a moment, that the
sound of his steps might not attract their attention, and at this very
instant the garden gate opened and closed with great violence. The
figure of a man approached. As he passed Vivian the moon rose up from
above the brow of the mountain, and lit up the countenance of the Baron.
Despair was stamped on his distracted features.
On the evening of the next day there was to be a grand fête given at the
New House by his Imperial Highness. The ladies would treasure their
energies for the impending ball, and the morning was to pass without an
excursion. Only Lady Madeleine, whom Vivian met taking her usual early
promenade in the gardens, seemed inclined to prolong it, and even
invited him to be her companion. She talked of the fête, and she
expressed a hope that Vivian would accompany their party; but her air
was not festive, she seemed abstracted and disturbed, and her voice more
than once broke off abruptly at the commencement of a sentence which it
seemed she had not courage to finish.
At length she said suddenly, "Mr. Grey, I cannot conceal any longer that
I am thinking of a very different subject from the ball. As you form
part of my thoughts, I shall not hesitate to disburthen my mind to you.
I wish not to keep you in suspense. It is of the mode of life which I
see my brother, which I see you, pursuing here that I wish to speak,"
she added with a tremulous voice. "May I speak with freedom?"
"With the most perfect unreserve and confidence."
"You are aware that Ems is not the first place at which I have met
Baron von Konigstein."
"I am not ignorant that he has been in England."
"It cannot have escaped you that I acknowledged his acquaintance with
"I should judge, with the greatest."
"And yet it was with still more reluctance that I prevailed upon myself
to believe you were his friend. I experienced great relief when you told
me how short and accidental had been your acquaintance. I have
experienced great pain in witnessing to what that acquaintance has led;
and it is with extreme sorrow for my own weakness, in not having had
courage to speak to you before, and with a hope of yet benefiting you,
that I have been induced to speak to you now."
"I trust there is no cause either for your sorrow or your fear; but
much, much cause for my gratitude."
"I have observed the constant attendance of yourself and my brother at
the New House with the utmost anxiety. I have seen too much not to be
aware of the danger which young men, and young men of honour, must
always experience at such places. Alas! I have seen too much of Baron
von Konigstein not to know that at such places especially his
acquaintance is fatal. The evident depression of your spirits yesterday
determined me on a step which I have for the last few days been
considering. I can learn nothing from my brother. I fear that I am even
now too late; but I trust that, whatever may be your situation, you will
remember, Mr. Grey, that you have friends; that you will decide on
"Lady Madeleine," said Vivian, "I will not presume to express the
gratitude which your generous conduct allows me to feel. This moment
repays me for a year of agony. I affect not to misunderstand your
meaning. My opinion, my detestation of the gaming table, has always
been, and must always be, the same. I do assure you this, and all
things, upon my honour. Far from being involved, my cheek burns while I
confess that I am master of a considerable sum acquired by this
unhallowed practice. You are aware of the singular fortune which awaited
my first evening at Ems; that fortune was continued at the New House the
very first day I dined there, and when, unexpectedly, I was forced to
play. That fatal fortune has rendered my attendance at the New House
necessary. I found it impossible to keep away without subjecting myself
to painful observations. My depression of yesterday was occasioned by
the receipt of letters from England. I am ashamed of having spoken so
much about myself, and so little about those for whom you are more
interested. So far as I can judge, you have no cause, at present, for
any uneasiness with regard to Mr. St. George. You may, perhaps, have
observed that we are not very intimate, and therefore I cannot speak
with any precision as to the state of his fortunes; but I have reason to
believe that they are by no means unfavourable. And as for the
"I hardly know what I am to infer from your observations respecting him.
I certainly should infer something extremely bad, were not I conscious
that, after the experience of five weeks, I, for one, have nothing to
complain of him. The Baron, certainly, is fond of play; plays high,
indeed. He has not had equal fortune at the New House as at the Redoute;
at least I imagine so, for he has given me no cause to believe, in any
way, that he is a loser."
"If you could only understand the relief I feel at this moment, I am
sure you would not wonder that I prevailed upon myself to speak to you.
It may still be in my power, however, to prevent evil."
"Yes, certainly! I think the best course now would be to speak to me
frankly respecting Von Konigstein; and, if you are aware of anything
which has passed in England of a nature--"
"Stop!" said Lady Madeleine, agitated. Vivian was silent, and some
moments elapsed before his companion again spoke. When she did her eyes
were fixed on the ground, and her tones were low; but her voice was calm
"I am going to accept, Mr. Grey, the confidence which you have proffered
me; but I do not affect to conceal that I speak, even now, with
reluctance; an effort, and it will soon be over. It is for the best."
Lady Madeleine paused one moment, and then resumed with a firm voice:
"Upwards of six years have now passed since Baron von Konigstein was
appointed Minister to London from the Court of ----. Although apparently
young for such an important mission, he had already distinguished
himself as a diplomatist; and with all the advantages of brilliant
talents, various accomplishments, rank, reputation, person, and a
fascinating address, I need not tell you that he immediately became of
consideration, even in the highest circles. Mr. Trevor, I was then just
married, was at this period in office, and was constantly in personal
communication with the Baron. They became intimate, and he was our
constant guest. He had the reputation of being a man of pleasure. He was
one for whose indiscretions there might be some excuse; nor had anything
ever transpired which could induce us to believe that Baron von
Konigstein could be guilty of anything but an indiscretion. At this
period a relation and former ward of Mr. Trevor's, a young man of
considerable fortune, and one whom we all fondly loved, resided in our
family. We considered him as our brother. With this individual Baron von
Konigstein formed a strong friendship; they were seldom apart. Our
relation was not exempted from the failings of young men. He led a
dissipated life; but he was very young; and as, unlike most relations,
we never allowed any conduct on his part to banish him from our society,
we trusted that the contrast which his own family afforded to his usual
companions would in time render his habits less irregular. We had now
known Baron von Konigstein for upwards of a year and a half, intimately.
Nothing had transpired during this period to induce Mr. Trevor to alter
the opinion which he had entertained of him from the first; he believed
him to be a man of honour, and, in spite of a few imprudences, of
principle. Whatever might have been my own opinion of him at this
period, I had no reason to doubt the natural goodness of his
disposition; and though I could not hope that he was one who would
assist us in our plans for the reformation of Augustus, I still was not
sorry to believe, that in the Baron he would at least find a companion
very different from the unprincipled and selfish beings by whom he was
too often surrounded. Something occurred at this time which placed Baron
von Konigstein, according to his own declaration, under lasting
obligations to myself. In the warmth of his heart he asked if there was
any real and important service which he could do me. I took advantage of
the moment to speak to him about our young friend; I detailed to him all
our anxieties; he anticipated all my wishes, and promised to watch over
him, to be his guardian, his friend, his real friend. Mr. Grey,"
continued her Ladyship, "I struggle to restrain my feelings; but the
recollections of this period of my life are so painful that for a
moment I must stop to recover myself."
For a few minutes they walked on in silence. Vivian did not speak; and
when his companion resumed her tale, he, unconsciously, pressed her arm.
"I try to be brief. About three months after the Baron had given me the
pledge which I mentioned, Mr. Trevor was called up at an early hour one
morning with the intelligence that his late ward was supposed to be at
the point of death at a neighbouring hotel. He instantly repaired to
him, and on the way the fatal truth was broken to him: our friend had
committed suicide! He had been playing all night with one whom I cannot
now name." Here Lady Madeleine's voice died away, but with a struggle
she again spoke firmly.
"I mean with the Baron, some foreigners also, and an Englishman, all
intimate friends of Von Konigstein, and scarcely known to the deceased.
Our friend had been the only sufferer; he had lost his whole fortune,
and more than his fortune: and, with a heart full of despair and
remorse, had, with his own hand, terminated his life. The whole
circumstances were so suspicious that they attracted public attention,
and Mr. Trevor spared no exertion to bring the offenders to justice. The
Baron had the hardihood to call upon us the next day; of course, in
vain. He wrote violent letters, protesting his innocence; that he was
asleep during most of the night, and accusing the others who were
present of a conspiracy. The unhappy business now attracted very general
interest. Its consequence on me was an alarming illness of a most
unfortunate kind; I was therefore prevented from interfering, or,
indeed, knowing anything that took place; but my husband informed me
that the Baron was involved in a public correspondence; that the accused
parties recriminated, and that finally he was convinced that Von
Konigstein, if there were any difference, was, if possible, the most
guilty. However this might be, he soon obtained his recall from his own
Government. He wrote to us both before he left England; but I was too
ill to hear of his letters, until Mr. Trevor informed me that he had
returned them unopened. And now, I must give utterance to that which as
yet has always died upon my lips, the unhappy victim was the brother of
"And Mr. St. George," said Vivian, "knowing all this, which surely he
must have done; how came he to tolerate, for an instant, the advances of
such a man?"
"My brother," said Lady Madeleine, "is a very good young man, with a
kind heart and warm feelings; but my brother has not much knowledge of
the world, and he is too honourable himself ever to believe that what he
calls a gentleman can be dishonest. My brother was not in England when
the unhappy event took place, and of course the various circumstances
have not made the same impression upon him as upon us. He has heard of
the affair only from me; and young men too often imagine that women are
apt to exaggerate in matters of this nature, which, of course, few of us
can understand. The Baron had not the good feeling, or perhaps had not
the power, connected as he was with the Grand Duke, to affect ignorance
of our former acquaintance, or to avoid a second one. I was obliged
formally to present him to my brother. I was quite perplexed how to act.
I thought of writing to him the next morning, impressing upon him the
utter impossibility of our acquaintance being renewed: but this
proceeding involved a thousand difficulties. How was a man of his
distinction, a man, who not only from his rank, but from his
disposition, is always a remarkable and a remarked character, wherever
he may be; how could he account to the Grand Duke, and to his numerous
friends, for his not associating with a party with whom he was
perpetually in contact. Explanations, and worse, must have been the
consequence. I could hardly expect him to leave Ems; it was, perhaps,
out of his power: and for Miss Fane to leave Ems at this moment was most
strenuously prohibited by her physician. While I was doubtful and
deliberating, the conduct of Baron von Konigstein himself prevented me
from taking any step whatever. Feeling all the awkwardness of his
situation, he seized, with eagerness, the opportunity of becoming
intimate with a member of the family whom he had not before known. His
amusing conversation, and insinuating address, immediately enlisted the
feelings of my brother in his favour. You know yourself that the very
morning after their introduction they were riding together. As they
became more intimate, the Baron boldly spoke to Albert, in confidence,
of his acquaintance with us in England, and of the unhappy circumstances
which led to its termination. Albert was deceived by this seeming
courage and candour. He has become the Baron's friend, and has adopted
his version of the unhappy story; and as the Baron has had too much
delicacy to allude to the affair in a defence of himself to me, he
calculated that the representations of Albert, who, he was conscious,
would not preserve the confidence which he has always intended him to
betray, would assist in producing in my mind an impression in his
favour. The Neapolitan story which he told the other day at dinner was
of himself. I confess to you, that though I have not for a moment
doubted his guilt, still I was weak enough to consider that his desire
to become reconciled to me was at least an evidence of a repentant
heart; and the Neapolitan story deceived me. Actuated by these feelings,
and acting as I thought wisest under existing circumstances, I ceased to
discourage his advances. Your acquaintance, which we all desired to
cultivate, was perhaps another reason for enduring his presence. His
subsequent conduct has undeceived me: I am convinced now, not only of
his former guilt, but also that he is not changed; and that, with his
accustomed talent, he has been acting a part which for some reason or
other he has no longer any object in maintaining."
"And Miss Fane," said Vivian, "she must know all?"
"She knows nothing in detail; she was so young at the time that we had
no difficulty in keeping the particular circumstances of her brother's
death, and the sensation which it excited, a secret from her. As she
grew up, I have thought it proper that the mode of his death should no
longer be concealed from her; and she has learnt from some incautious
observations of Albert, enough to make her look upon the Baron with
terror. It is for Violet," continued Lady Madeleine, "that I have the
severest apprehensions. For the last fortnight her anxiety for her
cousin has produced an excitement, which I look upon with more dread
than anything that can happen to her. She has entreated me to speak to
Albert, and also to you. The last few days she has become more easy and
serene. She accompanies us to-night; the weather is so beautiful that
the night air is scarcely to be feared; and a gay scene will have a
favourable influence upon her spirits. Your depression last night did
not, however, escape her notice. Once more let me say how I rejoice at
hearing what you have told me. I unhesitatingly believe all that you
have said. Watch Albert. I have no fear for yourself."
The company at the Grand Duke's fête was most select; that is to say, it
consisted of everybody who was then at the Baths: those who had been
presented to his Highness having the privilege of introducing any number
of their friends; and those who had no friend to introduce them
purchasing tickets at an enormous price from Cracowsky, the wily Polish
Intendant. The entertainment was imperial; no expense and no exertion
were spared to make the hired lodging-house look like an hereditary
palace; and for a week previous to the great evening the whole of the
neighbouring town of Wiesbaden, the little capital of the duchy, had
been put under contribution. What a harvest for Cracowsky! What a
commission from the restaurateur for supplying the refreshments! What a
percentage on hired mirrors and dingy hangings!
The Grand Duke, covered with orders, received every one with the
greatest condescension, and made to each of his guests a most flattering
speech. His suite, in new uniforms, simultaneously bowed directly the
flattering speech was finished.
"Madame von Furstenburg, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Madame von
Furstenburg, I trust that your amiable and delightful family are quite
well. [The party passed on.] Cravatischeff!" continued his Highness,
inclining his head round to one of his aides-de-camp, "Cravatischeff! a
very fine woman is Madame von Furstenburg. There are few women whom I
more admire than Madame von Furstenburg.
"Prince Salvinski, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Poland honours no
one more than Prince Salvinski. Cravatischeff! a remarkable bore is
Prince Salvinski. There are few men of whom I have a greater terror than
"Baron von Konigstein, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Baron von
Konigstein, I have not yet forgotten the story of the fair Venetian.
Cravatischeff! an uncommonly pleasant fellow is Baron von Konigstein.
There are few men whose company I more enjoy than Baron von
"Count von Altenburgh, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. You will not forget
to give me your opinion of my Austrian troop. Cravatischeff! a very good
billiard player is Count von Altenburgh. There are few men whose play I
would sooner bet upon than Count von Altenburgh's.
"Lady Madeleine Trevor, I feel the greatest pleasure in seeing you. My
greatest pleasure is to be surrounded by my friends. Miss Fane, your
servant; Mr. St. George, Mr. Grey. Cravatischeff! a most splendid woman
is Lady Madeleine Trevor. There is no woman whom I more admire than Lady
Madeleine Trevor! and Cravatischeff! Miss Fane, too! a remarkably fine
girl is Miss Fane."
The great saloon of the New House afforded excellent accommodation for
the dancers. It opened on the gardens, which, though not very large,
were tastefully laid out, and were this evening brilliantly illuminated.
In the smaller saloon the Austrian troop amused those who were not
fascinated by waltz or quadrille with acting proverbs: the regular
dramatic performance was thought too heavy a business for the evening.
There was sufficient amusement for all; and those who did not dance, and
to whom proverbs were no novelty, walked and talked, stared at others,
and were themselves stared at; and this, perhaps, was the greatest
amusement of all. Baron von Konigstein did certainly to-night look
neither like an unsuccessful gamester nor a designing villain. Among
many who were really amusing he was the most so, and, apparently without
the least consciousness of it, attracted the admiration of all. To the
Trevor party he had attached himself immediately, and was constantly at
Lady Madeleine's side, introducing to her, in the course of the evening,
his own and Mr. St. George's particular friends, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzloom.
Among many smiling faces Vivian Grey's was clouded; the presence of the
Baron annoyed him. When they first met he was conscious that he was
stiff and cool. One moment's reflection convinced him of the folly of
his conduct, and he made a struggle to be very civil. In five minutes'
time he had involuntarily insulted the Baron, who stared at his friend,
and evidently did not comprehend him.
"Grey," said his Excellency, very quietly, "you are not in a good
humour tonight. What is the matter? This is not at all a temper to come
to a fête in. What! won't Miss Fane dance with you?'" asked the Baron,
with an arched smile.
"I wonder wind can induce your Excellency to talk such nonsense!"
"Your Excellency! by Jove, that's good! What the deuce is the matter
with the man? It is Miss Fane, then, eh?"
"Baron von Konigstein, I wish you to understand--"
"My dear fellow, I never could understand anything. I think you have
insulted me in a most disgraceful manner, and I positively must call you
out, unless you promise to dine at my rooms with me to-morrow, to meet
"Why not? You have no engagement with Lady Madeleine I know, for St.
George has agreed to come."
"De Boeffleurs leaves Ems next week. It is sooner than he expected, and
I wish to have a quiet evening together before he goes. I should be very
vexed if you were not there. We have scarcely been enough together
lately. What with the New House in the evening, and riding parties in
the morning, and those Fitzloom girls, with whom St. George is playing a
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