Part 6 out of 8
that her recommendation would not permit his poverty to be an
obstacle, and that if She found him deserving it, He might depend
in future upon her protection. Theodore assured her that to
merit her favour would be his highest ambition; and having
ordered him to return next day, when She would talk with him
further, the Domina quitted the Parlour.
The Nuns, whom respect for the Superior had till then kept
silent, now crowded all together to the Grate, and assailed the
Youth with a multitude of questions. He had already examined
each with attention: Alas! Agnes was not amongst them. The Nuns
heaped question upon question so thickly that it was scarcely
possible for him to reply. One asked where He was born, since
his accent declared him to be a Foreigner: Another wanted to
know, why He wore a patch upon his left eye: Sister Helena
enquired whether He had not a Sister like him, because She should
like such a Companion; and Sister Rachael was fully persuaded
that the Brother would be the pleasanter Companion of the Two.
Theodore amused himself with retailing to the credulous Nuns for
truths all the strange stories which his imagination could
invent. He related to them his supposed adventures, and
penetrated every Auditor with astonishment, while He talked of
Giants, Savages, Ship-wrecks, and Islands inhabited
'By Anthropophagi, and Men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders,'
With many other circumstances to the full as remarkable. He said,
that He was born in Terra Incognita, was educated at an Hottentot
University, and had past two years among the Americans of
'For what regards the loss of my eye' said He, 'it was a just
punishment upon me for disrespect to the Virgin, when I made my
second pilgrimage to Loretto. I stood near the Altar in the
miraculous Chapel: The Monks were proceeding to array the Statue
in her best apparel. The Pilgrims were ordered to close their
eyes during this ceremony: But though by nature extremely
religious, curiosity was too powerful. At the moment . . . . . I
shall penetrate you with horror, reverend Ladies, when I reveal
my crime! . . . . At the moment that the Monks were changing her
shift, I ventured to open my left eye, and gave a little peep
towards the Statue. That look was my last! The Glory which
surrounded the Virgin was too great to be supported. I hastily
shut my sacrilegious eye, and never have been able to unclose it
At the relation of this miracle the Nuns all crossed themselves,
and promised to intercede with the blessed Virgin for the
recovery of his sight. They expressed their wonder at the extent
of his travels, and at the strange adventures which He had met
with at so early an age. They now remarked his Guitar, and
enquired whether he was an adept in Music. He replied with
modesty that it was not for him to decide upon his talents, but
requested permission to appeal to them as Judges. This was
granted without difficulty.
'But at least,' said the old Porteress, 'take care not to sing
any thing profane.'
'You may depend upon my discretion,' replied Theodore: 'You shall
hear how dangerous it is for young Women to abandon themselves
to their passions, illustrated by the adventure of a Damsel who
fell suddenly in love with an unknown Knight.'
'But is the adventure true?' enquired the Porteress.
'Every word of it. It happened in Denmark, and the Heroine was
thought so beautiful that She was known by no other name but
that of ''the lovely Maid''.'
'In Denmark, say you?' mumbled an old Nun; 'Are not the People
all Blacks in Denmark?'
'By no means, reverend Lady; They are of a delicate pea-green
with flame-coloured hair and whiskers.'
'Mother of God! Pea-green?' exclaimed Sister Helena; 'Oh! 'tis
'Impossible?' said the Porteress with a look of contempt and
exultation: 'Not at all: When I was a young Woman, I remember
seeing several of them myself.'
Theodore now put his instrument in proper order. He had read the
story of a King of England whose prison was discovered by a
Minstrel; and He hoped that the same scheme would enable him to
discover Agnes, should She be in the Convent. He chose a Ballad
which She had taught him herself in the Castle of Lindenberg: She
might possibly catch the sound, and He hoped to hear her replying
to some of the Stanzas. His Guitar was now in tune, and He
prepared to strike it.
'But before I begin,' said He 'it is necessary to inform you,
Ladies, that this same Denmark is terribly infested by Sorcerers,
Witches, and Evil Spirits. Every element possesses its
appropriate Daemons. The Woods are haunted by a malignant power,
called ''the Erl- or Oak-King:'' He it is who blights the Trees,
spoils the Harvest, and commands the Imps and Goblins: He
appears in the form of an old Man of majestic figure, with a
golden Crown and long white beard: His principal amusement is to
entice young Children from their Parents, and as soon as He gets
them into his Cave, He tears them into a thousand pieces--The
Rivers are governed by another Fiend, called ''the Water-King:''
His province is to agitate the deep, occasion ship-wrecks, and
drag the drowning Sailors beneath the waves: He wears the
appearance of a Warrior, and employs himself in luring young
Virgins into his snare: What He does with them, when He catches
them in the water, Reverend Ladies, I leave for you to
imagine--''The Fire-King'' seems to be a Man all formed of
flames: He raises the Meteors and wandering lights which
beguile Travellers into ponds and marshes, and He directs the
lightning where it may do most mischief--The last of these
elementary Daemons is called ''the Cloud-King;'' His figure is
that of a beautiful Youth, and He is distinguished by two large
sable Wings: Though his outside is so enchanting, He is not a
bit better disposed than the Others: He is continually employed
in raising Storms, tearing up Forests by the roots, and blowing
Castles and Convents about the ears of their Inhabitants. The
First has a Daughter, who is Queen of the Elves and Fairies; The
Second has a Mother, who is a powerful Enchantress: Neither of
these Ladies are worth more than the Gentlemen: I do not
remember to have heard any family assigned to the two other
Daemons, but at present I have no business with any of them
except the Fiend of the Waters. He is the Hero of my Ballad; but
I thought it necessary before I began, to give you some account
of his proceedings--'
Theodore then played a short symphony; After which, stretching
his voice to its utmost extent to facilitate its reaching the ear
of Agnes, He sang the following Stanzas.
A DANISH BALLAD
With gentle murmur flowed the Tide,
While by the fragrant flowery side
The lovely Maid with carols gay
To Mary's Church pursued her way.
The Water-Fiend's malignant eye
Along the Banks beheld her hie;
Straight to his Mother-witch He sped,
And thus in suppliant accents said:
'Oh! Mother! Mother! now advise,
How I may yonder Maid surprize:
Oh! Mother! Mother! Now explain,
How I may yonder Maid obtain.'
The Witch She gave him armour white;
She formed him like a gallant Knight;
Of water clear next made her hand
A Steed, whose housings were of sand.
The Water-King then swift He went;
To Mary's Church his steps He bent:
He bound his Courser to the Door,
And paced the Church-yard three times four.
His Courser to the door bound He,
And paced the Church-yard four time three:
Then hastened up the Aisle, where all
The People flocked, both great and small.
The Priest said, as the Knight drew near,
'And wherefore comes the white Chief here?'
The lovely Maid She smiled aside;
'Oh! would I were the white Chief's Bride!'
He stept o'er Benches one and two;
'Oh! lovely Maid, I die for You!'
He stept o'er Benches two and three;
'Oh! lovely Maiden, go with me!'
Then sweet She smiled, the lovely Maid,
And while She gave her hand, She said,
'Betide me joy, betide me woe,
O'er Hill, o'er dale, with thee I go.'
The Priest their hands together joins:
They dance, while clear the moon-beam shines;
And little thinks the Maiden bright,
Her Partner is the Water-spright.
Oh! had some spirit deigned to sing,
'Your Partner is the Water-King!'
The Maid had fear and hate confest,
And cursed the hand which then She prest.
But nothing giving cause to think,
How near She strayed to danger's brink,
Still on She went, and hand in hand
The Lovers reached the yellow sand.
'Ascend this Steed with me, my Dear;
We needs must cross the streamlet here;
Ride boldly in; It is not deep;
The winds are hushed, the billows sleep.'
Thus spoke the Water-King. The Maid
Her Traitor-Bride-groom's wish obeyed:
And soon She saw the Courser lave
Delighted in his parent wave.
'Stop! Stop! my Love! The waters blue
E'en now my shrinking foot bedew!'
'Oh! lay aside your fears, sweet Heart!
We now have reached the deepest part.'
'Stop! Stop! my Love! For now I see
The waters rise above my knee.'
'Oh! lay aside your fears, sweet Heart!
We now have reached the deepest part.'
'Stop! Stop! for God's sake, stop! For Oh!
The waters o'er my bosom flow!'--
Scarce was the word pronounced, when Knight
And Courser vanished from her sight.
She shrieks, but shrieks in vain; for high
The wild winds rising dull the cry;
The Fiend exults; The Billows dash,
And o'er their hapless Victim wash.
Three times while struggling with the stream,
The lovely Maid was heard to scream;
But when the Tempest's rage was o'er,
The lovely Maid was seen no more.
Warned by this Tale, ye Damsels fair,
To whom you give your love beware!
Believe not every handsome Knight,
And dance not with the Water-Spright!
The Youth ceased to sing. The Nuns were delighted with the
sweetness of his voice and masterly manner of touching the
Instrument: But however acceptable this applause would have been
at any other time, at present it was insipid to Theodore. His
artifice had not succeeded. He paused in vain between the
Stanzas: No voice replied to his, and He abandoned the hope of
The Convent Bell now warned the Nuns that it was time to
assemble in the Refectory. They were obliged to quit the Grate;
They thanked the Youth for the entertainment which his Music had
afforded them, and charged him to return the next day. This He
promised: The Nuns, to give him the greater inclination to keep
his word, told him that He might always depend upon the Convent
for his meals, and each of them made him some little present.
One gave him a box of sweetmeats; Another, an Agnus Dei; Some
brought reliques of Saints, waxen Images, and consecrated
Crosses; and Others presented him with pieces of those works in
which the Religious excel, such as embroidery, artificial
flowers, lace, and needlework. All these He was advised to
sell, in order to put himself into better case; and He was
assured that it would be easy to dispose of them, since the
Spaniards hold the performances of the Nuns in high estimation.
Having received these gifts with seeming respect and gratitude,
He remarked that, having no Basket, He knew not how to convey
them away. Several of the Nuns were hastening in search of one,
when they were stopped by the return of an elderly Woman, whom
Theodore had not till then observed: Her mild countenance, and
respectable air prejudiced him immediately in her favour.
'Hah!' said the Porteress; 'Here comes the Mother St. Ursula with
The Nun approached the Grate, and presented the Basket to
Theodore: It was of willow, lined with blue satin, and upon the
four sides were painted scenes from the legend of St. Genevieve.
'Here is my gift,' said She, as She gave it into his hand; 'Good
Youth, despise it not; Though its value seems insignificant, it
has many hidden virtues.'
She accompanied these words with an expressive look. It was not
lost upon Theodore; In receiving the present, He drew as near the
Grate as possible.
'Agnes!' She whispered in a voice scarcely intelligible.
Theodore, however, caught the sound: He concluded that some
mystery was concealed in the Basket, and his heart beat with
impatience and joy. At this moment the Domina returned. Her air
was gloomy and frowning, and She looked if possible more stern
'Mother St. Ursula, I would speak with you in private.'
The Nun changed colour, and was evidently disconcerted.
'With me?' She replied in a faltering voice.
The Domina motioned that She must follow her, and retired. The
Mother St. Ursula obeyed her; Soon after, the Refectory Bell
ringing a second time, the Nuns quitted the Grate, and Theodore
was left at liberty to carry off his prize. Delighted that at
length He had obtained some intelligence for the Marquis, He flew
rather than ran, till He reached the Hotel de las Cisternas. In
a few minutes He stood by his Master's Bed with the Basket in his
hand. Lorenzo was in the chamber, endeavouring to reconcile his
Friend to a misfortune which He felt himself but too severely.
Theodore related his adventure, and the hopes which had been
created by the Mother St. Ursula's gift. The Marquis started
his pillow: That fire which since the death of Agnes had been
extinguished, now revived in his bosom, and his eyes sparkled
with the eagerness of expectation. The emotions which Lorenzo's
countenance betrayed, were scarcely weaker, and He waited with
inexpressible impatience for the solution of this mystery.
Raymond caught the basket from the hands of his Page: He emptied
the contents upon the bed, and examined them with minute
attention. He hoped that a letter would be found at the bottom;
Nothing of the kind appeared. The search was resumed, and still
with no better success. At length Don Raymond observed that one
corner of the blue satin lining was unripped; He tore it open
hastily, and drew forth a small scrap of paper neither folded or
sealed. It was addressed to the Marquis de las Cisternas, and
the contents were as follows.
Having recognised your Page, I venture to send these few lines.
Procure an order from the Cardinal-Duke for seizing my Person,
and that of the Domina; But let it not be executed till Friday at
midnight. It is the Festival of St. Clare: There will be a
procession of Nuns by torch-light, and I shall be among them.
Beware not to let your intention be known: Should a syllable be
dropt to excite the Domina's suspicions, you will never hear of
me more. Be cautious, if you prize the memory of Agnes, and wish
to punish her Assassins. I have that to tell, will freeze your
blood with horror. St. Ursula.
No sooner had the Marquis read the note than He fell back upon
his pillow deprived of sense or motion. The hope failed him
which till now had supported his existence; and these lines
convinced him but too positively that Agnes was indeed no more.
Lorenzo felt this circumstance less forcibly, since it had always
been his idea that his Sister had perished by unfair means. When
He found by the Mother St. Ursula's letter how true were his
suspicions, the confirmation excited no other sentiment in his
bosom than a wish to punish the Murderers as they deserved. It
was no easy task to recall the Marquis to himself. As soon as He
recovered his speech, He broke out into execrations against the
Assassins of his Beloved, and vowed to take upon them a signal
vengeance. He continued to rave and torment himself with
impotent passion till his constitution, enfeebled by grief and
illness, could support itself no longer, and He relapsed into
insensibility. His melancholy situation sincerely affected
Lorenzo, who would willingly have remained in the apartment of
his Friend; But other cares now demanded his presence. It was
necessary to procure the order for seizing the Prioress of St.
Clare. For this purpose, having committed Raymond to the care of
the best Physicians in Madrid, He quitted the Hotel de las
Cisternas, and bent his course towards the Palace of the
His disappointment was excessive, when He found that affairs of
State had obliged the Cardinal to set out for a distant Province.
It wanted but five to Friday: Yet by travelling day and night,
He hoped to return in time for the Pilgrimage of St. Clare. In
this He succeeded. He found the Cardinal-Duke; and represented
to him the supposed culpability of the Prioress, as also the
violent effects which it had produced upon Don Raymond. He could
have used no argument so forcible as this last. Of all his
Nephews, the Marquis was the only one to whom the Cardinal-Duke
was sincerely attached: He perfectly doated upon him, and the
Prioress could have committed no greater crime in his eyes than
to have endangered the life of the Marquis. Consequently, He
granted the order of arrest without difficulty: He also gave
Lorenzo a letter to a principal Officer of the Inquisition,
desiring him to see his mandate executed. Furnished with these
papers, Medina hastened back to Madrid, which He reached on the
Friday a few hours before dark. He found the Marquis somewhat
easier, but so weak and exhausted that without great exertion He
could neither speak or more. Having past an hour by his Bedside,
Lorenzo left him to communicate his design to his Uncle, as also
to give Don Ramirez de Mello the Cardinal's letter. The First
was petrified with horror when He learnt the fate of his unhappy
Niece: He encouraged Lorenzo to punish her Assassins, and
engaged to accompany him at night to St. Clare's Convent. Don
Ramirez promised his firmest support, and selected a band of
trusty Archers to prevent opposition on the part of the Populace.
But while Lorenzo was anxious to unmask one religious Hypocrite,
He was unconscious of the sorrows prepared for him by Another.
Aided by Matilda's infernal Agents, Ambrosio had resolved upon
the innocent Antonia's ruin. The moment destined to be so fatal
to her arrived. She had taken leave of her Mother for the night.
As She kissed her, She felt an unusual despondency infuse itself
into her bosom. She left her, and returned to her instantly,
threw herself into her maternal arms, and bathed her cheek with
tears: She felt uneasy at quitting her, and a secret
presentiment assured her that never must they meet again. Elvira
observed, and tried to laugh her out of this childish prejudice:
She chid her mildly for encouraging such ungrounded sadness, and
warned her how dangerous it was to encourage such ideas.
To all her remonstrances She received no other answer than,
'Mother! Dear Mother! Oh! would to God, it were Morning!'
Elvira, whose inquietude respecting her Daughter was a great
obstacle to her perfect reestablishment, was still labouring
under the effects of her late severe illness. She was this
Evening more than usually indisposed, and retired to bed before
her accustomed hour. Antonia withdrew from her Mother's chamber
with regret, and till the Door closed, kept her eyes fixed upon
her with melancholy expression. She retired to her own
apartment; Her heart was filled with bitterness: It seemed to
her that all her prospects were blasted, and the world contained
nothing for which it was worth existing. She sank into a Chair,
reclined her head upon her arm, and gazed upon the floor with a
vacant stare, while the most gloomy images floated before her
fancy. She was still in this state of insensibility when She
was disturbed by hearing a strain of soft Music breathed beneath
her window. She rose, drew near the Casement, and opened it to
hear it more distinctly. Having thrown her veil over her face,
She ventured to look out. By the light of the Moon She perceived
several Men below with Guitars and Lutes in their hands; and at a
little distance from them stood Another wrapped in his cloak,
whose stature and appearance bore a strong resemblance to
Lorenzo's. She was not deceived in this conjecture. It was
indeed Lorenzo himself, who bound by his word not to present
himself to Antonia without his Uncle's consent, endeavoured by
occasional Serenades, to convince his Mistress that his
attachment still existed. His stratagem had not the desired
effect. Antonia was far from supposing that this nightly music
was intended as a compliment to her: She was too modest to think
herself worthy such attentions; and concluding them to be
addressed to some neighbouring Lady, She grieved to find that
they were offered by Lorenzo.
The air which was played, was plaintive and melodious. It
accorded with the state of Antonia's mind, and She listened with
pleasure. After a symphony of some length, it was succeeded by
the sound of voices, and Antonia distinguished the following
Oh! Breathe in gentle strain, my Lyre!
'Tis here that Beauty loves to rest:
Describe the pangs of fond desire,
Which rend a faithful Lover's breast.
In every heart to find a Slave,
In every Soul to fix his reign,
In bonds to lead the wise and brave,
And make the Captives kiss his chain,
Such is the power of Love, and Oh!
I grieve so well Love's power to know.
In sighs to pass the live-long day,
To taste a short and broken sleep,
For one dear Object far away,
All others scorned, to watch and weep,
Such are the pains of Love, and Oh!
I grieve so well Love's pains to know!
To read consent in virgin eyes,
To press the lip ne'er prest till then
To hear the sigh of transport rise,
And kiss, and kiss, and kiss again,
Such are thy pleasures, Love, But Oh!
When shall my heart thy pleasures know?
Now hush, my Lyre! My voice be still!
Sleep, gentle Maid! May fond desire
With amorous thoughts thy visions fill,
Though still my voice, and hushed my Lyre.
The Music ceased: The Performers dispersed, and silence
prevailed through the Street. Antonia quitted the window with
regret: She as usual recommended herself to the protection of
St. Rosolia, said her accustomed prayers, and retired to bed.
Sleep was not long absent, and his presence relieved her from her
terrors and inquietude
It was almost two o'clock before the lustful Monk ventured to
bend his steps towards Antonia's dwelling. It has been already
mentioned that the Abbey was at no great distance from the
Strada di San Iago. He reached the House unobserved. Here He
stopped, and hesitated for a moment. He reflected on the
enormity of the crime, the consequences of a discovery, and the
probability, after what had passed, of Elvira's suspecting him to
be her Daughter's Ravisher: On the other hand it was suggested
that She could do no more than suspect; that no proofs of his
guilt could be produced; that it would seem impossible for the
rape to have been committed without Antonia's knowing when,
where, or by whom; and finally, He believed that his fame was too
firmly established to be shaken by the unsupported accusations of
two unknown Women. This latter argument was perfectly false: He
knew not how uncertain is the air of popular applause, and that a
moment suffices to make him today the detestation of the world,
who yesterday was its Idol. The result of the Monk's
deliberations was that He should proceed in his enterprize. He
ascended the steps leading to the House. No sooner did He touch
the door with the silver Myrtle, than it flew open, and presented
him with a free passage. He entered, and the door closed after
him of its own accord.
Guided by the moonbeams, He proceeded up the Staircase with
slow and cautious steps. He looked round him every moment with
apprehension and anxiety. He saw a Spy in every shadow, and
heard a voice in every murmur of the night breeze. Consciousness
of the guilty business on which He was employed appalled his
heart, and rendered it more timid than a Woman's. Yet still He
proceeded. He reached the door of Antonia's chamber. He stopped,
and listened. All was hushed within. The total silence
persuaded him that his intended Victim was retired to rest, and
He ventured to lift up the Latch. The door was fastened, and
resisted his efforts: But no sooner was it touched by the
Talisman, than the Bolt flew back. The Ravisher stept on, and
found himself in the chamber, where slept the innocent Girl,
unconscious how dangerous a Visitor was drawing near her Couch.
The door closed after him, and the Bolt shot again into its
Ambrosio advanced with precaution. He took care that not a board
should creak under his foot, and held in his breath as He
approached the Bed. His first attention was to perform the magic
ceremony, as Matilda had charged him: He breathed thrice upon
the silver Myrtle, pronounced over it Antonia's name, and laid it
upon her pillow. The effects which it had already produced
permitted not his doubting its success in prolonging the slumbers
of his devoted Mistress. No sooner was the enchantment
performed than He considered her to be absolutely in his power,
and his eyes flamed with lust and impatience. He now ventured to
cast a glance upon the sleeping Beauty. A single Lamp, burning
before the Statue of St. Rosolia, shed a faint light through the
room, and permitted him to examine all the charms of the lovely
Object before him. The heat of the weather had obliged her to
throw off part of the Bed-cloathes: Those which still covered
her, Ambrosio's insolent hand hastened to remove. She lay with
her cheek reclining upon one ivory arm; The Other rested on the
side of the Bed with graceful indolence. A few tresses of her
hair had escaped from beneath the Muslin which confined the rest,
and fell carelessly over her bosom, as it heaved with slow and
regular suspiration. The warm air had spread her cheek with
higher colour than usual. A smile inexpressibly sweet played
round her ripe and coral lips, from which every now and then
escaped a gentle sigh or an half-pronounced sentence. An air of
enchanting innocence and candour pervaded her whole form; and
there was a sort of modesty in her very nakedness which added
fresh stings to the desires of the lustful Monk.
He remained for some moments devouring those charms with his
eyes which soon were to be subjected to his ill-regulated
passions. Her mouth half-opened seemed to solicit a kiss: He
bent over her; he joined his lips to hers, and drew in the
fragrance of her breath with rapture. This momentary pleasure
increased his longing for still greater. His desires were raised
to that frantic height by which Brutes are agitated. He
resolved not to delay for one instant longer the accomplishment
of his wishes, and hastily proceeded to tear off those garments
which impeded the gratification of his lust.
'Gracious God!' exclaimed a voice behind him; 'Am I not deceived?
Is not this an illusion?'
Terror, confusion, and disappointment accompanied these words, as
they struck Ambrosio's hearing. He started, and turned towards
it. Elvira stood at the door of the chamber, and regarded the
Monk with looks of surprize and detestation.
A frightful dream had represented to her Antonia on the verge of
a precipice. She saw her trembling on the brink: Every moment
seemed to threaten her fall, and She heard her exclaim with
shrieks, 'Save me, Mother! Save me!--Yet a moment, and it will be
too late!' Elvira woke in terror. The vision had made too
strong an impression upon her mind, to permit her resting till
assured of her Daughter's safety. She hastily started from her
Bed, threw on a loose night-gown, and passing through the Closet
in which slept the Waiting-woman, She reached Antonia's chamber
just in time to rescue her from the grasp of the Ravisher.
His shame and her amazement seemed to have petrified into Statues
both Elvira and the Monk: They remained gazing upon each other
in silence. The Lady was the first to recover herself.
'It is no dream!' She cried; 'It is really Ambrosio, who stands
before me! It is the Man whom Madrid esteems a Saint, that I
find at this late hour near the Couch of my unhappy Child!
Monster of Hypocrisy! I already suspected your designs, but
forbore your accusation in pity to human frailty. Silence would
now be criminal: The whole City shall be informed of your
incontinence. I will unmask you, Villain, and convince the
Church what a Viper She cherishes in her bosom.'
Pale and confused the baffled Culprit stood trembling before her.
He would fain have extenuated his offence, but could find no
apology for his conduct: He could produce nothing but broken
sentences, and excuses which contradicted each other. Elvira was
too justly incensed to grant the pardon which He requested. She
protested that She would raise the neighbourhood, and make him an
example to all future Hypocrites. Then hastening to the Bed, She
called to Antonia to wake; and finding that her voice had no
effect, She took her arm, and raised her forcibly from the
pillow. The charm operated too powerfully. Antonia remained
insensible, and on being released by her Mother, sank back upon
'This slumber cannot be natural!' cried the amazed Elvira, whose
indignation increased with every moment. 'Some mystery is
concealed in it; But tremble, Hypocrite; all your villainy shall
soon be unravelled! Help! Help!' She exclaimed aloud; 'Within
there! Flora! Flora!'
'Hear me for one moment, Lady!' cried the Monk, restored to
himself by the urgency of the danger; 'By all that is sacred and
holy, I swear that your Daughter's honour is still unviolated.
Forgive my transgression! Spare me the shame of a discovery, and
permit me to regain the Abbey undisturbed. Grant me this request
in mercy! I promise not only that Antonia shall be secure from
me in future, but that the rest of my life shall prove . . . . .'
Elvira interrupted him abruptly.
'Antonia secure from you? _I_ will secure her! You shall betray
no longer the confidence of Parents! Your iniquity shall be
unveiled to the public eye: All Madrid shall shudder at your
perfidy, your hypocrisy and incontinence. What Ho! there! Flora!
Flora, I say!'
While She spoke thus, the remembrance of Agnes struck upon his
mind. Thus had She sued to him for mercy, and thus had He
refused her prayer! It was now his turn to suffer, and He could
not but acknowledge that his punishment was just. In the
meanwhile Elvira continued to call Flora to her assistance; but
her voice was so choaked with passion that the Servant, who was
buried in profound slumber, was insensible to all her cries:
Elvira dared not go towards the Closet in which Flora slept, lest
the Monk should take that opportunity to escape. Such indeed was
his intention: He trusted that could He reach the Abbey
unobserved by any other than Elvira, her single testimony would
not suffice to ruin a reputation so well established as his was
in Madrid. With this idea He gathered up such garments as He had
already thrown off, and hastened towards the Door. Elvira was
aware of his design; She followed him, and ere He could draw back
the bolt, seized him by the arm, and detained him.
'Attempt not to fly!' said She; 'You quit not this room without
Witnesses of your guilt.'
Ambrosio struggled in vain to disengage himself. Elvira quitted
not her hold, but redoubled her cries for succour. The Friar's
danger grew more urgent. He expected every moment to hear people
assembling at her voice; And worked up to madness by the approach
of ruin, He adopted a resolution equally desperate and savage.
Turning round suddenly, with one hand He grasped Elvira's throat
so as to prevent her continuing her clamour, and with the other,
dashing her violently upon the ground, He dragged her towards the
Bed. Confused by this unexpected attack, She scarcely had power
to strive at forcing herself from his grasp: While the Monk,
snatching the pillow from beneath her Daughter's head, covering
with it Elvira's face, and pressing his knee upon her stomach
with all his strength, endeavoured to put an end to her
existence. He succeeded but too well. Her natural strength
increased by the excess of anguish, long did the Sufferer
struggle to disengage herself, but in vain. The Monk continued
to kneel upon her breast, witnessed without mercy the convulsive
trembling of her limbs beneath him, and sustained with inhuman
firmness the spectacle of her agonies, when soul and body were on
the point of separating. Those agonies at length were over. She
ceased to struggle for life. The Monk took off the pillow, and
gazed upon her. Her face was covered with a frightful blackness:
Her limbs moved no more; The blood was chilled in her veins; Her
heart had forgotten to beat, and her hands were stiff and frozen.
Ambrosio beheld before him that once noble and majestic form, now
become a Corse, cold, senseless and disgusting.
This horrible act was no sooner perpetrated, than the Friar
beheld the enormity of his crime. A cold dew flowed over his
limbs; his eyes closed; He staggered to a chair, and sank into it
almost as lifeless as the Unfortunate who lay extended at his
feet. From this state He was rouzed by the necessity of flight,
and the danger of being found in Antonia's apartment. He had no
desire to profit by the execution of his crime. Antonia now
appeared to him an object of disgust. A deadly cold had usurped
the place of that warmth which glowed in his bosom: No ideas
offered themselves to his mind but those of death and guilt, of
present shame and future punishment. Agitated by remorse and
fear He prepared for flight: Yet his terrors did not so
compleatly master his recollection, as to prevent his taking the
precautions necessary for his safety. He replaced the pillow
upon the bed, gathered up his garments, and with the fatal
Talisman in his hand, bent his unsteady steps towards the door.
Bewildered by fear, He fancied that his flight was opposed by
Legions of Phantoms; Whereever He turned, the disfigured Corse
seemed to lie in his passage, and it was long before He succeeded
in reaching the door. The enchanted Myrtle produced its former
effect. The door opened, and He hastened down the staircase.
He entered the Abbey unobserved, and having shut himself into his
Cell, He abandoned his soul to the tortures of unavailing
remorse, and terrors of impending detection.
Tell us, ye Dead, will none of you in pity
To those you left behind disclose the secret?
O! That some courteous Ghost would blab it out,
What 'tis you are, and we must shortly be.
I've heard that Souls departed have sometimes
Fore-warned Men of their deaths:
'Twas kindly done
To knock, and give the alarum.
Ambrosio shuddered at himself, when He reflected on his rapid
advances in iniquity. The enormous crime which He had just
committed filled him with real horror. The murdered Elvira was
continually before his eyes, and his guilt was already punished
by the agonies of his conscience. Time, however, considerably
weakened these impressions: One day passed away, another
followed it, and still not the least suspicion was thrown upon
him. Impunity reconciled him to his guilt: He began to resume
his spirits; and as his fears of detection died away, He paid
less attention to the reproaches of remorse. Matilda exerted
herself to quiet his alarms. At the first intelligence of
Elvira's death, She seemed greatly affected, and joined the Monk
in deploring the unhappy catastrophe of his adventure: But when
She found his agitation to be somewhat calmed, and himself better
disposed to listen to her arguments, She proceeded to mention his
offence in milder terms, and convince him that He was not so
highly culpable as He appeared to consider himself. She
represented that He had only availed himself of the rights which
Nature allows to every one, those of self-preservation: That
either Elvira or himself must have perished, and that her
inflexibility and resolution to ruin him had deservedly marked
her out for the Victim. She next stated, that as He had before
rendered himself suspected to Elvira, it was a fortunate event
for him that her lips were closed by death; since without this
last adventure, her suspicions if made public might have produced
very disagreeable consequences. He had therefore freed himself
from an Enemy, to whom the errors of his conduct were
sufficiently known to make her dangerous, and who was the
greatest obstacle to his designs upon Antonia. Those designs She
encouraged him not to abandon. She assured him that, no longer
protected by her Mother's watchful eye, the Daughter would fall
an easy conquest; and by praising and enumerating Antonia's
charms, She strove to rekindle the desires of the Monk. In this
endeavour She succeeded but too well.
As if the crimes into which his passion had seduced him had only
increased its violence, He longed more eagerly than ever to enjoy
Antonia. The same success in concealing his present guilt, He
trusted would attend his future. He was deaf to the murmurs of
conscience, and resolved to satisfy his desires at any price. He
waited only for an opportunity of repeating his former
enterprize; But to procure that opportunity by the same means was
now impracticable. In the first transports of despair He had
dashed the enchanted Myrtle into a thousand pieces: Matilda told
him plainly that He must expect no further assistance from the
infernal Powers unless He was willing to subscribe to their
established conditions. This Ambrosio was determined not to do:
He persuaded himself that however great might be his iniquity,
so long as he preserved his claim to salvation, He need not
despair of pardon. He therefore resolutely refused to enter into
any bond or compact with the Fiends; and Matilda finding him
obstinate upon this point, forbore to press him further. She
exerted her invention to discover some means of putting Antonia
into the Abbot's power: Nor was it long before that means
While her ruin was thus meditating, the unhappy Girl herself
suffered severely from the loss of her Mother. Every morning on
waking, it was her first care to hasten to Elvira's chamber. On
that which followed Ambrosio's fatal visit, She woke later than
was her usual custom: Of this She was convinced by the
Abbey Chimes. She started from her bed, threw on a few loose
garments hastily, and was speeding to enquire how her Mother had
passed the night, when her foot struck against something which
lay in her passage. She looked down. What was her horror at
recognizing Elvira's livid Corse! She uttered a loud shriek, and
threw herself upon the floor. She clasped the inanimate form to
her bosom, felt that it was dead-cold, and with a movement of
disgust, of which She was not the Mistress, let it fall again
from her arms. The cry had alarmed Flora, who hastened to her
assistance. The sight which She beheld penetrated her with
horror; but her alarm was more audible than Antonia's. She made
the House ring with her lamentations, while her Mistress, almost
suffocated with grief, could only mark her distress by sobs and
groans. Flora's shrieks soon reached the ears of the Hostess,
whose terror and surprize were excessive on learning the cause of
this disturbance. A Physician was immediately sent for: But on
the first moment of beholding the Corse, He declared that
Elvira's recovery was beyond the power of art. He proceeded
therefore to give his assistance to Antonia, who by this time was
truly in need of it. She was conveyed to bed, while the Landlady
busied herself in giving orders for Elvira's Burial. Dame
Jacintha was a plain good kind of Woman, charitable, generous,
and devout: But her intellects were weak, and She was a
Miserable Slave to fear and superstition. She shuddered at the
idea of passing the night in the same House with a dead Body:
She was persuaded that Elvira's Ghost would appear to her, and no
less certain that such a visit would kill her with fright. From
this persuasion, She resolved to pass the night at a Neighbour's,
and insisted that the Funeral should take place the next day.
St. Clare's Cemetery being the nearest, it was determined that
Elvira should be buried there. Dame Jacintha engaged to defray
every expence attending the burial. She knew not in what
circumstances Antonia was left, but from the sparing manner in
which the Family had lived, She concluded them to be indifferent.
Consequently, She entertained very little hope of ever being
recompensed; But this consideration prevented her not from taking
care that the Interment was performed with decency, and from
showing the unfortunate Antonia all possible respect.
Nobody dies of mere grief; Of this Antonia was an instance.
Aided by her youth and healthy constitution, She shook off the
malady which her Mother's death had occasioned; But it was not
so easy to remove the disease of her mind. Her eyes were
constantly filled with tears: Every trifle affected her, and She
evidently nourished in her bosom a profound and rooted
melancholy. The slightest mention of Elvira, the most trivial
circumstance recalling that beloved Parent to her memory, was
sufficient to throw her into serious agitation. How much would
her grief have been increased, had She known the agonies which
terminated her Mother's existence! But of this no one
entertained the least suspicion. Elvira was subject to strong
convulsions: It was supposed that, aware of their approach, She
had dragged herself to her Daughter's chamber in hopes of
assistance; that a sudden access of her fits had seized her, too
violent to be resisted by her already enfeebled state of health;
and that She had expired ere She had time to reach the medicine
which generally relieved her, and which stood upon a shelf in
Antonia's room. This idea was firmly credited by the few people,
who interested themselves about Elvira: Her Death was esteemed a
natural event, and soon forgotten by all save by her, who had but
too much reason to deplore her loss.
In truth Antonia's situation was sufficiently embarrassing and
unpleasant. She was alone in the midst of a dissipated and
expensive City; She was ill provided with money, and worse with
Friends. Her aunt Leonella was still at Cordova, and She knew
not her direction. Of the Marquis de las Cisternas She heard no
news: As to Lorenzo, She had long given up the idea of
possessing any interest in his bosom. She knew not to whom She
could address herself in her present dilemma. She wished to
consult Ambrosio; But She remembered her Mother's injunctions to
shun him as much as possible, and the last conversation which
Elvira had held with her upon the subject had given her
sufficient lights respecting his designs to put her upon her
guard against him in future. Still all her Mother's warnings
could not make her change her good opinion of the Friar. She
continued to feel that his friendship and society were requisite
to her happiness: She looked upon his failings with a partial
eye, and could not persuade herself that He really had intended
her ruin. However, Elvira had positively commanded her to drop
his acquaintance, and She had too much respect for her orders to
At length She resolved to address herself for advice and
protection to the Marquis de las Cisternas, as being her nearest
Relation. She wrote to him, briefly stating her desolate
situation; She besought him to compassionate his Brother's Child,
to continue to her Elvira's pension, and to authorise her
retiring to his old Castle in Murcia, which till now had been her
retreat. Having sealed her letter, She gave it to the trusty
Flora, who immediately set out to execute her commission. But
Antonia was born under an unlucky Star. Had She made her
application to the Marquis but one day sooner, received as his
Niece and placed at the head of his Family, She would have
escaped all the misfortunes with which She was now threatened.
Raymond had always intended to execute this plan: But first, his
hopes of making the proposal to Elvira through the lips of Agnes,
and afterwards, his disappointment at losing his intended Bride,
as well as the severe illness which for some time had confined
him to his Bed, made him defer from day to day the giving an
Asylum in his House to his Brother's Widow. He had commissioned
Lorenzo to supply her liberally with money: But Elvira,
unwilling to receive obligations from that Nobleman, had assured
him that She needed no immediate pecuniary assistance.
Consequently, the Marquis did not imagine that a trifling delay
on his part could create any embarrassment; and the distress and
agitation of his mind might well excuse his negligence.
Had He been informed that Elvira's death had left her Daughter
Friendless and unprotected, He would doubtless have taken such
measures, as would have ensured her from every danger: But
Antonia was not destined to be so fortunate. The day on which
She sent her letter to the Palace de las Cisternas was that
following Lorenzo's departure from Madrid. The Marquis was in
the first paroxysms of despair at the conviction that Agnes was
indeed no more: He was delirious, and his life being in danger,
no one was suffered to approach him. Flora was informed that He
was incapable of attending to Letters, and that probably a few
hours would decide his fate. With this unsatisfactory answer She
was obliged to return to her Mistress, who now found herself
plunged into greater difficulties than ever.
Flora and Dame Jacintha exerted themselves to console her. The
Latter begged her to make herself easy, for that as long as She
chose to stay with her, She would treat her like her own Child.
Antonia, finding that the good Woman had taken a real affection
for her, was somewhat comforted by thinking that She had at
least one Friend in the World. A Letter was now brought to her,
directed to Elvira. She recognized Leonella's writing, and
opening it with joy, found a detailed account of her Aunt's
adventures at Cordova. She informed her Sister that She had
recovered her Legacy, had lost her heart, and had received in
exchange that of the most amiable of Apothecaries, past, present,
and to come. She added that She should be at Madrid on the
Tuesday night, and meant to have the pleasure of presenting her
Caro Sposo in form. Though her nuptials were far from pleasing
Antonia, Leonella's speedy return gave her Niece much delight.
She rejoiced in thinking that She should once more be under a
Relation's care. She could not but judge it to be highly
improper, for a young Woman to be living among absolute
Strangers, with no one to regulate her conduct, or protect her
from the insults to which, in her defenceless situation, She was
exposed. She therefore looked forward with impatience to the
It arrived. Antonia listened anxiously to the Carriages, as they
rolled along the Street. None of them stopped, and it grew late
without Leonella's appearing. Still, Antonia resolved to sit up
till her Aunt's arrival, and in spite of all her remonstrances,
Dame Jacintha and Flora insisted upon doing the same. The hours
passed on slow and tediously. Lorenzo's departure from Madrid
had put a stop to the nightly Serenades: She hoped in vain to
hear the usual sound of Guitars beneath her window. She took up
her own, and struck a few chords: But Music that evening had lost
its charms for her, and She soon replaced the Instrument in its
case. She seated herself at her embroidery frame, but nothing
went right: The silks were missing, the thread snapped every
moment, and the needles were so expert at falling that they
seemed to be animated. At length a flake of wax fell from the
Taper which stood near her upon a favourite wreath of Violets:
This compleatly discomposed her; She threw down her needle, and
quitted the frame. It was decreed that for that night nothing
should have the power of amusing her. She was the prey of Ennui,
and employed herself in making fruitless wishes for the arrival
of her Aunt.
As She walked with a listless air up and down the chamber, the
Door caught her eye conducting to that which had been her
Mother's. She remembered that Elvira's little Library was
arranged there, and thought that She might possibly find in it
some Book to amuse her till Leonella should arrive. Accordingly
She took her Taper from the table, passed through the little
Closet, and entered the adjoining apartment. As She looked
around her, the sight of this room brought to her recollection a
thousand painful ideas. It was the first time of her entering it
since her Mother's death. The total silence prevailing through
the chamber, the Bed despoiled of its furniture, the cheerless
hearth where stood an extinguished Lamp, and a few dying Plants
in the window which, since Elvira's loss, had been neglected,
inspired Antonia with a melancholy awe. The gloom of night gave
strength to this sensation. She placed her light upon the Table,
and sank into a large chair, in which She had seen her Mother
seated a thousand and a thousand times. She was never to see her
seated there again! Tears unbidden streamed down her cheek, and
She abandoned herself to the sadness which grew deeper with
Ashamed of her weakness, She at length rose from her seat: She
proceeded to seek for what had brought her to this melancholy
scene. The small collection of Books was arranged upon several
shelves in order. Antonia examined them without finding any
thing likely to interest her, till She put her hand upon a volume
of old Spanish Ballads. She read a few Stanzas of one of them:
They excited her curiosity. She took down the Book, and seated
herself to peruse it with more ease. She trimmed the Taper,
which now drew towards its end, and then read the following
ALONZO THE BRAVE, AND FAIR IMOGINE
A Warrior so bold, and a Virgin so bright
Conversed, as They sat on the green:
They gazed on each other with tender delight;
Alonzo the Brave was the name of the Knight,
The Maid's was the Fair Imogine.
'And Oh!' said the Youth, 'since to-morrow I go
To fight in a far distant land,
Your tears for my absence soon leaving to flow,
Some Other will court you, and you will bestow
On a wealthier Suitor your hand.'
'Oh! hush these suspicions,' Fair Imogine said,
'Offensive to Love and to me!
For if ye be living, or if ye be dead,
I swear by the Virgin, that none in your stead
Shall Husband of Imogine be.
'If e'er I by lust or by wealth led aside
Forget my Alonzo the Brave,
God grant, that to punish my falsehood and pride
Your Ghost at the Marriage may sit by my side,
May tax me with perjury, claim me as Bride,
And bear me away to the Grave!'
To Palestine hastened the Hero so bold;
His Love, She lamented him sore:
But scarce had a twelve-month elapsed, when behold,
A Baron all covered with jewels and gold
Arrived at Fair Imogine's door.
His treasure, his presents, his spacious domain
Soon made her untrue to her vows:
He dazzled her eyes; He bewildered her brain;
He caught her affections so light and so vain,
And carried her home as his Spouse.
And now had the Marriage been blest by the Priest;
The revelry now was begun:
The Tables, they groaned with the weightof the Feast;
Nor yet had the laughter and merriment ceased,
When the Bell of the Castle told,--'One!'
Then first with amazement Fair Imogine found
That a Stranger was placed by her side: His air was terrific;
He uttered no sound; He spoke not, He moved not,
He looked not around,
But earnestly gazed on the Bride.
His vizor was closed, and gigantic his height;
His armour was sable to view:
All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight;
The Dogs as They eyed him drew back in affright,
The Lights in the chamber burned blue!
His presence all bosoms appeared to dismay;
The Guests sat in silence and fear.
At length spoke the Bride, while She trembled;
'I pray, Sir Knight, that your Helmet aside you would lay,
And deign to partake of our chear.'
The Lady is silent: The Stranger complies.
His vizor lie slowly unclosed:
Oh! God! what a sight met Fair Imogine's eyes!
What words can express her dismay and surprize,
When a Skeleton's head was exposed.
All present then uttered a terrified shout;
All turned with disgust from the scene.
The worms, They crept in, and the worms, They crept out,
And sported his eyes and his temples about,
While the Spectre addressed Imogine.
'Behold me, Thou false one! Behold me!' He cried;
'Remember Alonzo the Brave!
God grants, that to punish thy falsehood and pride
My Ghost at thy marriage should sit by thy side,
Should tax thee with perjury, claim thee as Bride
And bear thee away to the Grave!'
Thus saying, his arms round the Lady He wound,
While loudly She shrieked in dismay;
Then sank with his prey through the wide-yawning ground:
Nor ever again was Fair Imogine found,
Or the Spectre who bore her away.
Not long lived the Baron; and none since that time
To inhabit the Castle presume:
For Chronicles tell, that by order sublime
There Imogine suffers the pain of her crime,
And mourns her deplorable doom.
At midnight four times in each year does her Spright
When Mortals in slumber are bound,
Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,
Appear in the Hall with the Skeleton-Knight,
And shriek, as He whirls her around.
While They drink out of skulls newly torn from the grave,
Dancing round them the Spectres are seen:
Their liquor is blood, and this horrible Stave
They howl.--'To the health of Alonzo the Brave,
And his Consort, the False Imogine!'
The perusal of this story was ill-calculated to dispel Antonia's
melancholy. She had naturally a strong inclination to the
marvellous; and her Nurse, who believed firmly in Apparitions,
had related to her when an Infant so many horrible adventures of
this kind, that all Elvira's attempts had failed to eradicate
their impressions from her Daughter's mind. Antonia still
nourished a superstitious prejudice in her bosom: She was often
susceptible of terrors which, when She discovered their natural
and insignificant cause, made her blush at her own weakness.
With such a turn of mind, the adventure which She had just been
reading sufficed to give her apprehensions the alarm. The hour
and the scene combined to authorize them. It was the dead of
night: She was alone, and in the chamber once occupied by her
deceased Mother. The weather was comfortless and stormy: The
wind howled around the House, the doors rattled in their frames,
and the heavy rain pattered against the windows. No other sound
was heard. The Taper, now burnt down to the socket, sometimes
flaring upwards shot a gleam of light through the room, then
sinking again seemed upon the point of expiring. Antonia's heart
throbbed with agitation: Her eyes wandered fearfully over the
objects around her, as the trembling flame illuminated them at
intervals. She attempted to rise from her seat; But her limbs
trembled so violently that She was unable to proceed. She then
called Flora, who was in a room at no great distance: But
agitation choaked her voice, and her cries died away in hollow
She passed some minutes in this situation, after which her
terrors began to diminish. She strove to recover herself, and
acquire strength enough to quit the room: Suddenly She fancied,
that She heard a low sigh drawn near her. This idea brought back
her former weakness. She had already raised herself from her
seat, and was on the point of taking the Lamp from the Table.
The imaginary noise stopped her: She drew back her hand, and
supported herself upon the back of a Chair. She listened
anxiously, but nothing more was heard.
'Gracious God!' She said to herself; 'What could be that sound?
Was I deceived, or did I really hear it?'
Her reflections were interrupted by a noise at the door scarcely
audible: It seemed as if somebody was whispering. Antonia's
alarm increased: Yet the Bolt She knew to be fastened, and this
idea in some degree reassured her. Presently the Latch was
lifted up softly, and the Door moved with caution backwards and
forwards. Excess of terror now supplied Antonia with that
strength, of which She had till then been deprived. She started
from her place and made towards the Closet door, whence She
might soon have reached the chamber where She expected to find
Flora and Dame Jacintha. Scarcely had She reached the middle of
the room when the Latch was lifted up a second time. An
involuntary movement obliged her to turn her head. Slowly and
gradually the Door turned upon its hinges, and standing upon the
Threshold She beheld a tall thin Figure, wrapped in a white
shroud which covered it from head to foot.
This vision arrested her feet: She remained as if petrified in
the middle of the apartment. The Stranger with measured and
solemn steps drew near the Table. The dying Taper darted a blue
and melancholy flame as the Figure advanced towards it. Over the
Table was fixed a small Clock; The hand of it was upon the stroke
of three. The Figure stopped opposite to the Clock: It raised
its right arm, and pointed to the hour, at the same time looking
earnestly upon Antonia, who waited for the conclusion of this
scene, motionless and silent.
The figure remained in this posture for some moments. The clock
struck. When the sound had ceased, the Stranger advanced yet a
few steps nearer Antonia.
'Yet three days,' said a voice faint, hollow, and sepulchral;
'Yet three days, and we meet again!'
Antonia shuddered at the words.
'We meet again?' She pronounced at length with difficulty:
'Where shall we meet? Whom shall I meet?'
The figure pointed to the ground with one hand, and with the
other raised the Linen which covered its face.
'Almighty God! My Mother!'
Antonia shrieked, and fell lifeless upon the floor.
Dame Jacintha who was at work in a neighbouring chamber, was
alarmed by the cry: Flora was just gone down stairs to fetch
fresh oil for the Lamp, by which they had been sitting. Jacintha
therefore hastened alone to Antonia's assistance, and great was
her amazement to find her extended upon the floor. She raised
her in her arms, conveyed her to her apartment, and placed her
upon the Bed still senseless. She then proceeded to bathe her
temples, chafe her hands, and use all possible means of bringing
her to herself. With some difficulty She succeeded. Antonia
opened her eyes, and looked round her wildly.
'Where is She?' She cried in a trembling voice; 'Is She gone? Am
I safe? Speak to me! Comfort me! Oh! speak to me for God's
'Safe from whom, my Child?' replied the astonished Jacintha;
'What alarms you? Of whom are you afraid?'
'In three days! She told me that we should meet in three days! I
heard her say it! I saw her, Jacintha, I saw her but this
She threw herself upon Jacintha's bosom.
'You saw her? Saw whom?'
'My Mother's Ghost!'
'Christ Jesus!' cried Jacintha, and starting from the Bed, let
fall Antonia upon the pillow, and fled in consternation out of
As She hastened down stairs, She met Flora ascending them.
'Go to your Mistress, Flora,' said She; 'Here are rare doings!
Oh! I am the most unfortunate Woman alive! My House is filled
with Ghosts and dead Bodies, and the Lord knows what besides; Yet
I am sure, nobody likes such company less than I do. But go
your way to Donna Antonia, Flora, and let me go mine.'
Thus saying, She continued her course to the Street door, which
She opened, and without allowing herself time to throw on her
veil, She made the best of her way to the Capuchin Abbey. In the
meanwhile, Flora hastened to her Lady's chamber, equally
surprized and alarmed at Jacintha's consternation. She found
Antonia lying upon the bed insensible. She used the same means
for her recovery that Jacintha had already employed; But finding
that her Mistress only recovered from one fit to fall into
another, She sent in all haste for a Physician. While expecting
his arrival, She undrest Antonia, and conveyed her to Bed.
Heedless of the storm, terrified almost out of her senses,
Jacintha ran through the Streets, and stopped not till She
reached the Gate of the Abbey. She rang loudly at the bell, and
as soon as the Porter appeared, She desired permission to speak
to the Superior. Ambrosio was then conferring with Matilda upon
the means of procuring access to Antonia. The cause of Elvira's
death remaining unknown, He was convinced that crimes were not so
swiftly followed by punishment, as his Instructors the Monks had
taught him, and as till then He had himself believed. This
persuasion made him resolve upon Antonia's ruin, for the
enjoyment of whose person dangers and difficulties only seemed to
have increased his passion. The Monk had already made one
attempt to gain admission to her presence; But Flora had refused
him in such a manner as to convince him that all future
endeavours must be vain. Elvira had confided her suspicions to
that trusty Servant: She had desired her never to leave Ambrosio
alone with her Daughter, and if possible to prevent their meeting
altogether. Flora promised to obey her, and had executed her
orders to the very letter. Ambrosio's visit had been rejected
that morning, though Antonia was ignorant of it. He saw that to
obtain a sight of his Mistress by open means was out of the
question; and both Himself and Matilda had consumed the night, in
endeavouring to invent some plan, whose event might be more
successful. Such was their employment, when a Lay-Brother
entered the Abbot's Cell, and informed him that a Woman calling
herself Jacintha Zuniga requested audience for a few minutes.
Ambrosio was by no means disposed to grant the petition of his
Visitor. He refused it positively, and bad the Lay-Brother tell
the Stranger to return the next day. Matilda interrupted him.
'See this Woman,' said She in a low voice; 'I have my reasons.'
The Abbot obeyed her, and signified that He would go to the
Parlour immediately. With this answer the Lay-Brother
withdrew. As soon as they were alone Ambrosio enquired why
Matilda wished him to see this Jacintha.
'She is Antonia's Hostess,' replied Matilda; 'She may possibly be
of use to you: but let us examine her, and learn what brings her
They proceeded together to the Parlour, where Jacintha was
already waiting for the Abbot. She had conceived a great opinion
of his piety and virtue; and supposing him to have much influence
over the Devil, thought that it must be an easy matter for him to
lay Elvira's Ghost in the Red Sea. Filled with this persuasion
She had hastened to the Abbey. As soon as She saw the Monk enter
the Parlour, She dropped upon her knees, and began her story as
'Oh! Reverend Father! Such an accident! Such an adventure! I
know not what course to take, and unless you can help me, I shall
certainly go distracted. Well, to be sure, never was Woman so
unfortunate, as myself! All in my power to keep clear of such
abomination have I done, and yet that all is too little. What
signifies my telling my beads four times a day, and observing
every fast prescribed by the Calendar? What signifies my having
made three Pilgrimages to St. James of Compostella, and purchased
as many pardons from the Pope as would buy off Cain's
punishment? Nothing prospers with me! All goes wrong, and God
only knows, whether any thing will ever go right again! Why now,
be your Holiness the Judge. My Lodger dies in convulsions; Out
of pure kindness I bury her at my own expence; (Not that She is
any Relation of mine, or that I shall be benefited a single
pistole by her death: I got nothing by it, and therefore you
know, reverend Father, that her living or dying was just the same
to me. But that is nothing to the purpose; To return to what I
was saying,) I took care of her funeral, had every thing
performed decently and properly, and put myself to expence
enough, God knows! And how do you think the Lady repays me for
my kindness? Why truly by refusing to sleep quietly in her
comfortable deal Coffin, as a peaceable well-disposed Spirit
ought to do, and coming to plague me, who never wish to set eyes
on her again. Forsooth, it well becomes her to go racketing
about my House at midnight, popping into her Daughter's room
through the Keyhole, and frightening the poor Child out of her
wits! Though She be a Ghost, She might be more civil than to
bolt into a Person's House, who likes her company so little. But
as for me, reverend Father, the plain state of the case is this:
If She walks into my House, I must walk out of it, for I cannot
abide such Visitors, not I! Thus you see, your Sanctity, that
without your assistance I am ruined and undone for ever. I shall
be obliged to quit my House; Nobody will take it, when 'tis known
that She haunts it, and then I shall find myself in a fine
situation! Miserable Woman that I am! What shall I do! What
will become of me!'
Here She wept bitterly, wrung her hands, and begged to know the
Abbot's opinion of her case.
'In truth, good Woman,' replied He, 'It will be difficult for me
to relieve you without knowing what is the matter with you. You
have forgotten to tell me what has happened, and what it is you
'Let me die' cried Jacintha, 'but your Sanctity is in the right!
This then is the fact stated briefly. A lodger of mine is lately
dead, a very good sort of Woman that I must needs say for her as
far as my knowledge of her went, though that was not a great way:
She kept me too much at a distance; for indeed She was given to
be upon the high ropes, and whenever I ventured to speak to her,
She had a look with her which always made me feel a little
queerish, God forgive me for saying so. However, though She was
more stately than needful, and affected to look down upon me
(Though if I am well informed, I come of as good Parents as She
could do for her ears, for her Father was a Shoe-maker at
Cordova, and Mine was an Hatter at Madrid, aye, and a very
creditable Hatter too, let me tell you,) Yet for all her pride,
She was a quiet well-behaved Body, and I never wish to have a
better Lodger. This makes me wonder the more at her not sleeping
quietly in her Grave: But there is no trusting to people in this
world! For my part, I never saw her do amiss, except on the
Friday before her death. To be sure, I was then much scandalized
by seeing her eat the wing of a Chicken! ''How, Madona Flora!''
quoth I; (Flora, may it please your Reverence, is the name of the
waiting Maid)--''How, Madona Flora!'' quoth I; ''Does your
Mistress eat flesh upon Fridays? Well! Well! See the event,
and then remember that Dame Jacintha warned you of it!'' These
were my very words, but Alas! I might as well have held my
tongue! Nobody minded me; and Flora, who is somewhat pert and
snappish, (More is the pity, say I) told me that there was no
more harm in eating a Chicken than the egg from which it came.
Nay, She even declared that if her Lady added a slice of bacon,
She would not be an inch nearer Damnation, God protect us! A
poor ignorant sinful soul! I protest to your Holiness, I
trembled to hear her utter such blasphemies, and expected every
moment to see the ground open and swallow her up, Chicken and
all! For you must know, worshipful Father, that while She talked
thus, She held the plate in her hand, on which lay the identical
roast Fowl. And a fine Bird it was, that I must say for it! Done
to a turn, for I superintended the cooking of it myself: It was
a little Gallician of my own raising, may it please your
Holiness, and the flesh was as white as an egg-shell, as indeed
Donna Elvira told me herself. ''Dame Jacintha,'' said She, very
good-humouredly, though to say the truth, She was always very
polite to me . . . . .'
Here Ambrosio's patience failed him. Eager to know Jacintha's
business in which Antonia seemed to be concerned, He was almost
distracted while listening to the rambling of this prosing old
Woman. He interrupted her, and protested that if She did not
immediately tell her story and have done with it, He should quit
the Parlour, and leave her to get out of her difficulties by
herself. This threat had the desired effect. Jacintha related
her business in as few words as She could manage; But her account
was still so prolix that Ambrosio had need of his patience to
bear him to the conclusion.
'And so, your Reverence,' said She, after relating Elvira's death
and burial, with all their circumstances; 'And so, your
Reverence, upon hearing the shriek, I put away my work, and away
posted I to Donna Antonia's chamber. Finding nobody there, I
past on to the next; But I must own, I was a little timorous at
going in, for this was the very room where Donna Elvira used to
sleep. However, in I went, and sure enough, there lay the young
Lady at full length upon the floor, as cold as a stone, and as
white as a sheet. I was surprized at this, as your Holiness may
well suppose; But Oh me! how I shook when I saw a great tall
figure at my elbow whose head touched the ceiling! The face was
Donna Elvira's, I must confess; But out of its mouth came clouds
of fire, its arms were loaded with heavy chains which it rattled
piteously, and every hair on its head was a Serpent as big as my
arm! At this I was frightened enough, and began to say my
Ave-Maria: But the Ghost interrupting me uttered three loud
groans, and roared out in a terrible voice, ''Oh! That Chicken's
wing! My poor soul suffers for it!'' As soon as She had said
this, the Ground opened, the Spectre sank down, I heard a clap of
thunder, and the room was filled with a smell of brimstone. When
I recovered from my fright, and had brought Donna Antonia to
herself, who told me that She had cried out upon seeing her
Mother's Ghost, (And well might She cry, poor Soul! Had I been
in her place, I should have cried ten times louder) it directly
came into my head, that if any one had power to quiet this
Spectre, it must be your Reverence. So hither I came in all
diligence, to beg that you will sprinkle my House with holy
water, and lay the Apparition in the Red Sea.'
Ambrosio stared at this strange story, which He could not credit.
'Did Donna Antonia also see the Ghost?' said He.
'As plain as I see you, Reverend Father!'
Ambrosio paused for a moment. Here was an opportunity offered
him of gaining access to Antonia, but He hesitated to employ it.
The reputation which He enjoyed in Madrid was still dear to him;
and since He had lost the reality of virtue, it appeared as if
its semblance was become more valuable. He was conscious that
publicly to break through the rule never to quit the
Abbey precincts, would derogate much from his supposed austerity.
In visiting Elvira, He had always taken care to keep his features
concealed from the Domestics. Except by the Lady, her Daughter,
and the faithful Flora, He was known in the Family by no other
name than that of Father Jerome. Should He comply with
Jacintha's request, and accompany her to her House, He knew that
the violation of his rule could not be kept a secret. However,
his eagerness to see Antonia obtained the victory: He even hoped,
that the singularity of this adventure would justify him in the
eyes of Madrid: But whatever might be the consequences, He
resolved to profit by the opportunity which chance had presented
to him. An expressive look from Matilda confirmed him in this
'Good Woman,' said He to Jacintha, 'what you tell me is so
extraordinary that I can scarcely credit your assertions.
However, I will comply with your request. Tomorrow after Matins
you may expect me at your House: I will then examine into what I
can do for you, and if it is in my power, will free you from this
unwelcome Visitor. Now then go home, and peace be with you!'
'Home?' exclaimed Jacintha; 'I go home? Not I by my troth!
except under your protection, I set no foot of mine within the
threshold. God help me, the Ghost may meet me upon the Stairs,
and whisk me away with her to the devil! Oh! That I had
accepted young Melchior Basco's offer! Then I should have had
somebody to protect me; But now I am a lone Woman, and meet with
nothing but crosses and misfortunes! Thank Heaven, it is not yet
too late to repent! There is Simon Gonzalez will have me any day
of the week, and if I live till daybreak, I will marry him out
of hand: An Husband I will have, that is determined, for now
this Ghost is once in my House, I shall be frightened out of my
wits to sleep alone. But for God's sake, reverend Father, come
with me now. I shall have no rest till the House is purified, or
the poor young Lady either. The dear Girl! She is in a piteous
taking: I left her in strong convulsions, and I doubt, She will
not easily recover her fright.'
The Friar started, and interrupted her hastily.
'In convulsions, say you? Antonia in convulsions? Lead on, good
Woman! I follow you this moment!'
Jacintha insisted upon his stopping to furnish himself with the
vessel of holy water: With this request He complied. Thinking
herself safe under his protection should a Legion of Ghosts
attack her, the old Woman returned the Monk a profusion of
thanks, and they departed together for the Strada di San Iago.
So strong an impression had the Spectre made upon Antonia, that
for the first two or three hours the Physician declared her life
to be in danger. The fits at length becoming less frequent
induced him to alter his opinion. He said that to keep her quiet
was all that was necessary; and He ordered a medicine to be
prepared which would tranquillize her nerves, and procure her
that repose which at present She much wanted. The sight of
Ambrosio, who now appeared with Jacintha at her Bedside,
contributed essentially to compose her ruffled spirits. Elvira
had not sufficiently explained herself upon the nature of his
designs, to make a Girl so ignorant of the world as her Daughter
aware how dangerous was his acquaintance. At this moment, when
penetrated with horror at the scene which had just past, and
dreading to contemplate the Ghost's prediction, her mind had need
of all the succours of friendship and religion, Antonia regarded
the Abbot with an eye doubly partial. That strong prepossession
in his favour still existed which She had felt for him at first
sight: She fancied, yet knew not wherefore, that his presence
was a safeguard to her from every danger, insult, or misfortune.
She thanked him gratefully for his visit, and related to him the
adventure, which had alarmed her so seriously.
The Abbot strove to reassure her, and convince her that the
whole had been a deception of her overheated fancy. The
solitude in which She had passed the Evening, the gloom of night,
the Book which She had been reading, and the Room in which She
sat, were all calculated to place before her such a vision. He
treated the idea of Ghosts with ridicule, and produced strong
arguments to prove the fallacy of such a system. His
conversation tranquillized and comforted her, but did not
convince her. She could not believe that the Spectre had been a
mere creature of her imagination; Every circumstance was
impressed upon her mind too forcibly, to permit her flattering
herself with such an idea. She persisted in asserting that She
had really seen her Mother's Ghost, had heard the period of her
dissolution announced and declared that She never should quit
her bed alive. Ambrosio advised her against encouraging these
sentiments, and then quitted her chamber, having promised to
repeat his visit on the morrow. Antonia received this assurance
with every mark of joy: But the Monk easily perceived that He
was not equally acceptable to her Attendant. Flora obeyed
Elvira's injunctions with the most scrupulous observance. She
examined every circumstance with an anxious eye likely in the
least to prejudice her young Mistress, to whom She had been
attached for many years. She was a Native of Cuba, had followed
Elvira to Spain, and loved the young Antonia with a Mother's
affection. Flora quitted not the room for a moment while the
Abbot remained there: She watched his every word, his every
look, his every action. He saw that her suspicious eye was
always fixed upon him, and conscious that his designs would not
bear inspection so minute, He felt frequently confused and
disconcerted. He was aware that She doubted the purity of his
intentions; that She would never leave him alone with Antonia,
and his Mistress defended by the presence of this vigilant
Observer, He despaired of finding the means to gratify his
As He quitted the House, Jacintha met him, and begged that some
Masses might be sung for the repose of Elvira's soul, which She
doubted not was suffering in Purgatory. He promised not to
forget her request; But He perfectly gained the old Woman's
heart by engaging to watch during the whole of the approaching
night in the haunted chamber. Jacintha could find no terms
sufficiently strong to express her gratitude, and the Monk
departed loaded with her benedictions.
It was broad day when He returned to the Abbey. His first care
was to communicate what had past to his Confident. He felt too
sincere a passion for Antonia to have heard unmoved the
prediction of her speedy death, and He shuddered at the idea of
losing an object so dear to him. Upon this head Matilda
reassured him. She confirmed the arguments which Himself had
already used: She declared Antonia to have been deceived by the
wandering of her brain, by the Spleen which opprest her at the
moment, and by the natural turn of her mind to superstition, and
the marvellous. As to Jacintha's account, the absurdity refuted
itself; The Abbot hesitated not to believe that She had
fabricated the whole story, either confused by terror, or hoping
to make him comply more readily with her request. Having
overruled the Monk's apprehensions, Matilda continued thus.
'The prediction and the Ghost are equally false; But it must be
your care, Ambrosio, to verify the first. Antonia within three
days must indeed be dead to the world; But She must live for you.
Her present illness, and this fancy which She has taken into her
head, will colour a plan which I have long meditated, but which
was impracticable without your procuring access to Antonia. She
shall be yours, not for a single night, but for ever. All the
vigilance of her Duenna shall not avail her: You shall riot
unrestrained in the charms of your Mistress. This very day must
the scheme be put in execution, for you have no time to lose.
The Nephew of the Duke of Medina Celi prepares to demand Antonia
for his Bride: In a few days She will be removed to the Palace
of her Relation, the Marquis de las Cisternas, and there She will
be secure from your attempts. Thus during your absence have I
been informed by my Spies, who are ever employed in bringing me
intelligence for your service. Now then listen to me. There is
a juice extracted from certain herbs, known but to few, which
brings on the Person who drinks it the exact image of Death. Let
this be administered to Antonia: You may easily find means to
pour a few drops into her medicine. The effect will be throwing
her into strong convulsions for an hour: After which her blood
will gradually cease to flow, and heart to beat; A mortal
paleness will spread itself over her features, and She will
appear a Corse to every eye. She has no Friends about her: You
may charge yourself unsuspected with the superintendence of her
funeral, and cause her to be buried in the Vaults of St. Clare.
Their solitude and easy access render these Caverns favourable to
your designs. Give Antonia the soporific draught this Evening:
Eight and forty hours after She has drank it, Life will revive to
her bosom. She will then be absolutely in your power: She will
find all resistance unavailing, and necessity will compel her to
receive you in her arms.'
'Antonia will be in my power!' exclaimed the Monk; 'Matilda, you
transport me! At length then, happiness will be mine, and that
happiness will be Matilda's gift, will be the gift of friendship!
I shall clasp Antonia in my arms, far from every prying eye, from
every tormenting Intruder! I shall sigh out my soul upon her
bosom; Shall teach her young heart the first rudiments of
pleasure, and revel uncontrouled in the endless variety of her
charms! And shall this delight indeed by mine? Shall I give the
reins to my desires, and gratify every wild tumultuous wish? Oh!
Matilda, how can I express to you my gratitude?'
'By profiting by my counsels. Ambrosio, I live but to serve you:
Your interest and happiness are equally mine. Be your person
Antonia's, but to your friendship and your heart I still assert
my claim. Contributing to yours forms now my only pleasure.
Should my exertions procure the gratification of your wishes, I
shall consider my trouble to be amply repaid. But let us lose no
time. The liquor of which I spoke is only to be found in St.
Clare's Laboratory. Hasten then to the Prioress; Request of her
admission to the Laboratory, and it will not be denied. There is
a Closet at the lower end of the great Room, filled with liquids
of different colours and qualities. The Bottle in question
stands by itself upon the third shelf on the left. It contains a
greenish liquor: Fill a small phial with it when you are
unobserved, and Antonia is your own.'
The Monk hesitated not to adopt this infamous plan. His desires,
but too violent before, had acquired fresh vigour from the sight
of Antonia. As He sat by her bedside, accident had discovered to
him some of those charms which till then had been concealed from
him: He found them even more perfect, than his ardent imagination
had pictured them. Sometimes her white and polished arm was
displayed in arranging the pillow: Sometimes a sudden movement
discovered part of her swelling bosom: But whereever the
new-found charm presented itself, there rested the Friar's
gloting eyes. Scarcely could He master himself sufficiently to
conceal his desires from Antonia and her vigilant Duenna.
Inflamed by the remembrance of these beauties, He entered into
Matilda's scheme without hesitation.
No sooner were Matins over than He bent his course towards the
Convent of St. Clare: His arrival threw the whole Sisterhood
into the utmost amazement. The Prioress was sensible of the
honour done her Convent by his paying it his first visit, and
strove to express her gratitude by every possible attention. He
was paraded through the Garden, shown all the reliques of Saints
and Martyrs, and treated with as much respect and distinction as
had He been the Pope himself. On his part, Ambrosio received the
Domina's civilities very graciously, and strove to remove her
surprize at his having broken through his resolution. He stated,
that among his penitents, illness prevented many from quitting
their Houses. These were exactly the People who most needed his
advice and the comforts of Religion: Many representations had
been made to him upon this account, and though highly repugnant
to his own wishes, He had found it absolutely necessary for the
service of heaven to change his determination, and quit his
beloved retirement. The Prioress applauded his zeal in his
profession and his charity towards Mankind: She declared that
Madrid was happy in possessing a Man so perfect and
irreproachable. In such discourse, the Friar at length reached
the Laboratory. He found the Closet: The Bottle stood in the
place which Matilda had described, and the Monk seized an
opportunity to fill his phial unobserved with the soporific
liquor. Then having partaken of a Collation in the Refectory, He
retired from the Convent pleased with the success of his visit,
and leaving the Nuns delighted by the honour conferred upon them.
He waited till Evening before He took the road to Antonia's
dwelling. Jacintha welcomed him with transport, and besought him
not to forget his promise to pass the night in the haunted
Chamber: That promise He now repeated. He found Antonia
tolerably well, but still harping upon the Ghost's prediction.
Flora moved not from her Lady's Bed, and by symptoms yet stronger
than on the former night testified her dislike to the Abbot's
presence. Still Ambrosio affected not to observe them. The
Physician arrived, while He was conversing with Antonia. It was
dark already; Lights were called for, and Flora was compelled to
descend for them herself. However, as She left a third Person in
the room, and expected to be absent but a few minutes, She
believed that She risqued nothing in quitting her post. No
sooner had She left the room, than Ambrosio moved towards the
Table, on which stood Antonia's medicine: It was placed in a
recess of the window. The Physician seated in an armed-chair,
and employed in questioning his Patient, paid no attention to the
proceedings of the Monk. Ambrosio seized the opportunity: He
drew out the fatal Phial, and let a few drops fall into the
medicine. He then hastily left the Table, and returned to the
seat which He had quitted. When Flora made her appearance with
lights, every thing seemed to be exactly as She had left it.
The Physician declared that Antonia might quit her chamber the
next day with perfect safety. He recommended her following the
same prescription which, on the night before, had procured her a
refreshing sleep: Flora replied that the draught stood ready
upon the Table: He advised the Patient to take it without delay,
and then retired. Flora poured the medicine into a Cup and
presented it to her Mistress. At that moment Ambrosio's courage
failed him. Might not Matilda have deceived him? Might not
Jealousy have persuaded her to destroy her Rival, and substitute
poison in the room of an opiate? This idea appeared so
reasonable that He was on the point of preventing her from
swallowing the medicine. His resolution was adopted too late:
The Cup was already emptied, and Antonia restored it into Flora's
hands. No remedy was now to be found: Ambrosio could only
expect the moment impatiently, destined to decide upon Antonia's
life or death, upon his own happiness or despair.
Dreading to create suspicion by his stay, or betray himself by
his mind's agitation, He took leave of his Victim, and withdrew
from the room. Antonia parted from him with less cordiality than
on the former night. Flora had represented to her Mistress that
to admit his visits was to disobey her Mother's orders: She
described to her his emotion on entering the room, and the fire
which sparkled in his eyes while He gazed upon her. This had
escaped Antonia's observation, but not her Attendant's; Who
explaining the Monk's designs and their probable consequences in
terms much clearer than Elvira's, though not quite so delicate,
had succeeded in alarming her young Lady, and persuading her to
treat him more distantly than She had done hitherto. The idea of
obeying her Mother's will at once determined Antonia. Though She
grieved at losing his society, She conquered herself sufficiently
to receive the Monk with some degree of reserve and coldness.
She thanked him with respect and gratitude for his former visits,
but did not invite his repeating them in future. It now was not
the Friar's interest to solicit admission to her presence, and He
took leave of her as if not designing to return. Fully
persuaded that the acquaintance which She dreaded was now at an
end, Flora was so much worked upon by his easy compliance that
She began to doubt the justice of her suspicions. As She lighted
him down Stairs, She thanked him for having endeavoured to root
out from Antonia's mind her superstitious terrors of the
Spectre's prediction: She added, that as He seemed interested in
Donna Antonia's welfare, should any change take place in her
situation, She would be careful to let him know it. The Monk in
replying took pains to raise his voice, hoping that Jacintha
would hear it. In this He succeeded; As He reached the foot of
the Stairs with his Conductress, the Landlady failed not to make
'Why surely you are not going away, reverend Father?' cried She;
'Did you not promise to pass the night in the haunted Chamber?
Christ Jesus! I shall be left alone with the Ghost, and a fine
pickle I shall be in by morning! Do all I could, say all I
could, that obstinate old Brute, Simon Gonzalez, refused to marry
me today; And before tomorrow comes, I suppose, I shall be torn
to pieces, by the Ghosts, and Goblins, and Devils, and what not!
For God's sake, your Holiness, do not leave me in such a woeful
condition! On my bended knees I beseech you to keep your
promise: Watch this night in the haunted chamber; Lay the
Apparition in the Red Sea, and Jacintha remembers you in her
prayers to the last day of her existence!'
This request Ambrosio expected and desired; Yet He affected to
raise objections, and to seem unwilling to keep his word. He
told Jacintha that the Ghost existed nowhere but in her own
brain, and that her insisting upon his staying all night in the
House was ridiculous and useless. Jacintha was obstinate: She
was not to be convinced, and pressed him so urgently not to leave
her a prey to the Devil, that at length He granted her request.
All this show of resistance imposed not upon Flora, who was
naturally of a suspicious temper. She suspected the Monk to be
acting a part very contrary to his own inclinations, and that He
wished for no better than to remain where He was. She even went
so far as to believe that Jacintha was in his interest; and the
poor old Woman was immediately set down, as no better than a
Procuress. While She applauded herself for having penetrated
into this plot against her Lady's honour, She resolved in secret
to render it fruitless.
'So then,' said She to the Abbot with a look half-satirical and
half indignant; 'So then you mean to stay here tonight? Do so,
in God's name! Nobody will prevent you. Sit up to watch for the
Ghost's arrival: I shall sit up too, and the Lord grant that I
may see nothing worse than a Ghost! I quit not Donna Antonia's
Bedside during this blessed night: Let me see any one dare to
enter the room, and be He mortal or immortal, be He Ghost, Devil,
or Man, I warrant his repenting that ever He crossed the
This hint was sufficiently strong, and Ambrosio understood its
meaning. But instead of showing that He perceived her
suspicions; He replied mildly that He approved the Duenna's
precautions, and advised her to persevere in her intention.
This, She assured him faithfully that He might depend upon her
doing. Jacintha then conducted him into the chamber where the
Ghost had appeared, and Flora returned to her Lady's.
Jacintha opened the door of the haunted room with a trembling
hand: She ventured to peep in; But the wealth of India would not
have tempted her to cross the threshold. She gave the Taper to
the Monk, wished him well through the adventure, and hastened to
be gone. Ambrosio entered. He bolted the door, placed the light
upon the Table, and seated himself in the Chair which on the
former night had sustained Antonia. In spite of Matilda's
assurances that the Spectre was a mere creation of fancy, his
mind was impressed with a certain mysterious horror. He in vain
endeavoured to shake it off. The silence of the night, the story
of the Apparition, the chamber wainscotted with dark oak
pannells, the recollection which it brought with it of the
murdered Elvira, and his incertitude respecting the nature of the
drops given by him to Antonia, made him feel uneasy at his
present situation. But He thought much less of the Spectre, than
of the poison. Should He have destroyed the only object which
rendered life dear to him; Should the Ghost's prediction prove
true; Should Antonia in three days be no more, and He the
wretched cause of her death . . . . . . The supposition was too
horrible to dwell upon. He drove away these dreadful images, and
as often they presented themselves again before him. Matilda had
assured him that the effects of the Opiate would be speedy. He
listened with fear, yet with eagerness, expecting to hear some
disturbance in the adjoining chamber. All was still silent. He
concluded that the drops had not begun to operate. Great was
the stake, for which He now played: A moment would suffice to
decide upon his misery or happiness. Matilda had taught him the
means of ascertaining that life was not extinct for ever: Upon
this assay depended all his hopes. With every instant his
impatience redoubled; His terrors grew more lively, his anxiety
more awake. Unable to bear this state of incertitude, He
endeavoured to divert it by substituting the thoughts of Others
to his own. The Books, as was before mentioned, were ranged upon
shelves near the Table: This stood exactly opposite to the Bed,
which was placed in an Alcove near the Closet door. Ambrosio
took down a Volume, and seated himself by the Table: But his
attention wandered from the Pages before him. Antonia's image
and that of the murdered Elvira persisted to force themselves
before his imagination. Still He continued to read, though his
eyes ran over the characters without his mind being conscious of
their import. Such was his occupation, when He fancied that He
heard a footstep. He turned his head, but nobody was to be seen.
He resumed his Book; But in a few minutes after the same sound
was repeated, and followed by a rustling noise close behind him.
He now started from his seat, and looking round him, perceived
the Closet door standing half-unclosed. On his first entering
the room He had tried to open it, but found it bolted on the
'How is this?' said He to himself; 'How comes this door
He advanced towards it: He pushed it open, and looked into the
closet: No one was there. While He stood irresolute, He
thought that He distinguished a groaning in the adjacent
chamber: It was Antonia's, and He supposed that the drops began
to take effect: But upon listening more attentively, He found
the noise to be caused by Jacintha, who had fallen asleep by the
Lady's Bedside, and was snoring most lustily. Ambrosio drew
back, and returned to the other room, musing upon the sudden
opening of the Closet door, for which He strove in vain to
He paced the chamber up and down in silence. At length He
stopped, and the Bed attracted his attention. The curtain of the
Recess was but half-drawn. He sighed involuntarily.
'That Bed,' said He in a low voice, 'That Bed was Elvira's!
There has She past many a quiet night, for She was good and
innocent. How sound must have been her sleep! And yet now She
sleeps sounder! Does She indeed sleep? Oh! God grant that She
may! What if She rose from her Grave at this sad and silent
hour? What if She broke the bonds of the Tomb, and glided
angrily before my blasted eyes? Oh! I never could support the
sight! Again to see her form distorted by dying agonies, her
blood-swollen veins, her livid countenance, her eyes bursting
from their sockets with pain! To hear her speak of future
punishment, menace me with Heaven's vengeance, tax me with the
crimes I have committed, with those I am going to commit . . . .
. Great God! What is that?'
As He uttered these words, his eyes which were fixed upon the
Bed, saw the curtain shaken gently backwards and forwards. The
Apparition was recalled to his mind, and He almost fancied that
He beheld Elvira's visionary form reclining upon the Bed. A few
moments consideration sufficed to reassure him.
'It was only the wind,' said He, recovering himself.
Again He paced the chamber; But an involuntary movement of awe
and inquietude constantly led his eye towards the Alcove. He
drew near it with irresolution. He paused before He ascended the
few steps which led to it. He put out his hand thrice to remove
the curtain, and as often drew it back.
'Absurd terrors!' He cried at length, ashamed of his own
Hastily he mounted the steps; When a Figure drest in white
started from the Alcove, and gliding by him, made with
precipitation towards the Closet. Madness and despair now
supplied the Monk with that courage, of which He had till then
been destitute. He flew down the steps, pursued the Apparition,
and attempted to grasp it.
'Ghost, or Devil, I hold you!' He exclaimed, and seized the
Spectre by the arm.
'Oh! Christ Jesus!' cried a shrill voice; 'Holy Father, how you
gripe me! I protest that I meant no harm!'
This address, as well as the arm which He held, convinced the
Abbot that the supposed Ghost was substantial flesh and blood.
He drew the Intruder towards the Table, and holding up the light,
discovered the features of . . . . . . Madona Flora!
Incensed at having been betrayed by this trifling cause into
fears so ridiculous, He asked her sternly, what business had
brought her to that chamber. Flora, ashamed at being found out,
and terrified at the severity of Ambrosio's looks, fell upon her
knees, and promised to make a full confession.
'I protest, reverend Father,' said She, 'that I am quite grieved
at having disturbed you: Nothing was further from my intention.
I meant to get out of the room as quietly as I got in; and had
you been ignorant that I watched you, you know, it would have
been the same thing as if I had not watched you at all. To be
sure, I did very wrong in being a Spy upon you, that I cannot
deny; But Lord! your Reverence, how can a poor weak Woman resist
curiosity? Mine was so strong to know what you were doing, that
I could not but try to get a little peep, without any body
knowing any thing about it. So with that I left old Dame
Jacintha sitting by my Lady's Bed, and I ventured to steal into
the Closet. Being unwilling to interrupt you, I contented myself
at first with putting my eye to the Keyhole; But as I could see
nothing by this means, I undrew the bolt, and while your back was
turned to the Alcove, I whipt me in softly and silently. Here I
lay snug behind the curtain, till your Reverence found me out,
and seized me ere I had time to regain the Closet door. This is
the whole truth, I assure you, Holy Father, and I beg your pardon
a thousand times for my impertinence.'
During this speech the Abbot had time to recollect himself: He
was satisfied with reading the penitent Spy a lecture upon the
dangers of curiosity, and the meanness of the action in which She
had been just discovered. Flora declared herself fully
persuaded that She had done wrong; She promised never to be
guilty of the same fault again, and was retiring very humble and
contrite to Antonia's chamber, when the Closet door was suddenly
thrown open, and in rushed Jacintha pale and out of breath.
'Oh! Father! Father!' She cried in a voice almost choaked with
terror; 'What shall I do! What shall I do! Here is a fine piece
of work! Nothing but misfortunes! Nothing but dead people, and
dying people! Oh! I shall go distracted! I shall go
'Speak! Speak!' cried Flora and the Monk at the same time; 'What
has happened? What is the matter?'
'Oh! I shall have another Corse in my House! Some Witch has
certainly cast a spell upon it, upon me, and upon all about me!
Poor Donna Antonia! There She lies in just such convulsions, as
killed her Mother! The Ghost told her true! I am sure, the Ghost
has told her true!'
Flora ran, or rather flew to her Lady's chamber: Ambrosio
followed her, his bosom trembling with hope and apprehension.
They found Antonia as Jacintha had described, torn by racking
convulsions from which they in vain endeavoured to relieve her.
The Monk dispatched Jacintha to the Abbey in all haste, and
commissioned her to bring Father Pablos back with her, without
losing a moment.
'I will go for him,' replied Jacintha, 'and tell him to come
hither; But as to bringing him myself, I shall do no such thing.
I am sure that the House is bewitched, and burn me if ever I set
foot in it again.'
With this resolution She set out for the Monastery, and delivered
to Father Pablos the Abbot's orders. She then betook herself to
the House of old Simon Gonzalez, whom She resolved never to quit,
till She had made him her Husband, and his dwelling her own.
Father Pablos had no sooner beheld Antonia, than He pronounced
her incurable. The convulsions continued for an hour: During
that time her agonies were much milder than those which her
groans created in the Abbot's heart. Her every pang seemed a
dagger in his bosom, and He cursed himself a thousand times for
having adopted so barbarous a project. The hour being expired,
by degrees the Fits became less frequent, and Antonia less
agitated. She felt that her dissolution was approaching, and
that nothing could save her.
'Worthy Ambrosio,' She said in a feeble voice, while She pressed
his hand to her lips; 'I am now at liberty to express, how
grateful is my heart for your attention and kindness. I am upon
the bed of death; Yet an hour, and I shall be no more. I may
therefore acknowledge without restraint, that to relinquish your
society was very painful to me: But such was the will of a
Parent, and I dared not disobey. I die without repugnance:
There are few, who will lament my leaving them; There are few,
whom I lament to leave. Among those few, I lament for none more
than for yourself; But we shall meet again, Ambrosio! We shall
one day meet in heaven: There shall our friendship be renewed,
and my Mother shall view it with pleasure!'
She paused. The Abbot shuddered when She mentioned Elvira:
Antonia imputed his emotion to pity and concern for her.
'You are grieved for me, Father,' She continued; 'Ah! sigh not
for my loss. I have no crimes to repent, at least none of which
I am conscious, and I restore my soul without fear to him from
whom I received it. I have but few requests to make: Yet let me
hope that what few I have shall be granted. Let a solemn Mass be
said for my soul's repose, and another for that of my beloved
Mother. Not that I doubt her resting in her Grave: I am now
convinced that my reason wandered, and the falsehood of the
Ghost's prediction is sufficient to prove my error. But every
one has some failing: My Mother may have had hers, though I knew
them not: I therefore wish a Mass to be celebrated for her
repose, and the expence may be defrayed by the little wealth of
which I am possessed. Whatever may then remain, I bequeath to my
Aunt Leonella. When I am dead, let the Marquis de las Cisternas
know that his Brother's unhappy family can no longer importune
him. But disappointment makes me unjust: They tell me that He
is ill, and perhaps had it been in his power, He wished to have
protected me. Tell him then, Father, only that I am dead, and