Part 1 out of 6
Produced by John Hagerson, Kevin Handy and PG Distributed Proofreaders
THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J.A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
VOL. VIII FICTION
* * * * *
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SCOTT, SIR WALTER (_Continued_)
SHELLEY, MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT
SIDNEY, SIR PHILIP
STAEL, MME. DE
STENDHAL (HENRI BEYLE)
Chartreuse of Parma
STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Mysteries of Paris
THACKERAY, WILLIAM MAKEPEACE
TOLSTOY, COUNT LYOF N.
Fathers and Sons
A Nest of Nobles
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Castle of Otranto
A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end
of Volume XX.
* * * * *
SIR WALTER SCOTT
In mentioning "Quentin Durward" for the first time Scott
speaks of himself as having been ill, and "Peveril" as having
suffered through it. "I propose a good rally, however," he
says, "and hope it will have a powerful effect. My idea is a
Scotch archer in the French King's guard, _tempore_ Louis XI.,
the most picturesque of all times." The novel, which is by
many considered one of the best of Scott's works, was
published in June, 1823. It was coldly received by the British
public, though it eventually attained a marvellous popularity.
In Paris it created a tremendous sensation, similar to that
produced in Edinburgh by the appearance of "Waverley." It was
Scott's first venture on foreign ground, and the French were
delighted to find Louis XI. and Charles the Bold brought to
life again at the call of the Wizard of the North. The
delineations of these two characters are considered as fine as
any in fiction or history.
_I.--The Wanderer Meets Louis XI._
It was upon a delicious summer morning that a youth approached the ford
of a small river, near the Royal castle of Plessis-les-Tours, in ancient
The age of the young traveller might be about nineteen or twenty, and
his face and person were very prepossessing. His smart blue bonnet, with
sprig of holly and eagle's feather, was already recognised as the
Two persons loitered on the opposite side of the small river and observed
the youth. "Hark, sir, he halloes to know whether the water be deep,"
said the younger of the two.
"Nothing like experience in this world," answered the other, "let him
The young man receiving no hint to the contrary entered the stream, and
to one less alert in the exercise of swimming death had been certain,
for the brook was both deep and strong. As it was, he was carried but a
little way from the ordinary landing-place.
But the bonnie Scot turned wrathfully on the younger of the strangers
for not warning him of the stream, and only the reproof of the elder
prevented a violent quarrel.
"Fair son," he said, "you seem a stranger, and you should recollect your
dialect is not so easily comprehended by us."
"Well, father," answered the youth, "I do not care much about the
ducking I have had, provided you will direct me to some place where I
can have my clothes dried, for it is my only suit, and I must keep it
"For whom do you take us, fair son?" said the elder stranger.
"For substantial burgesses," said the youth. "You, master, may be a
money-broker or a corn-merchant."
"My business is to trade in as much money as I can," said the elder,
smiling. "As to your accommodation we will try to serve you. It is but a
short walk from hence to the village. Let me know your name, and follow
"My true name when at home is Quentin Durward," said the youth.
Proceeding along a path they came in sight of the whole front of the
Castle of Plessis-les-Tours.
"I have some friend to see in this quarter," said Durward. "My mother's
own brother, Ludovic Lesly--an honest and noble name."
"And so it is I doubt not," said the old man. "But of three Leslies in
the Scottish Guard two are called Ludovic."
"They call my kinsman Ludovic with the Scar," said Quentin.
"The man you speak of we, I think, call Le Balafre; from that scar on
his face," answered his companion. "A proper man and a good soldier. Men
call me Maitre Pierre--a plain man. I owe you a breakfast, Master Quentin,
for the wetting my mistake procured you."
While they were speaking they reached the entrance of the village of
Plessis, and presently approached the court-yard of an inn of unusual
Maitre Pierre lifted the latch of the side door, and led the way into a
large room, where arrangements had been made for a substantial
breakfast. He whistled and the landlord entered, and bowed with
Quentin Durward had eaten little for two days, and Maitre Pierre seemed
delighted with the appetite of the young Scot, who indeed devoured an
enormous repast. When his appetite had been satisfied, and the old man
had put several questions, the door opened, and a girl, whose
countenance, so young and so lovely, was graver, Quentin thought, than
belongs to an early beauty, entered with a platter and a cup of delicate
"How now, Jacqueline?" said Maitre Pierre. "Did I not desire that Dame
Perette should bring what I wanted? But I blame thee not, thou art too
young to be--what thou must be one day--a false and treacherous thing,
like the rest of thy giddy sex. Here is a Scottish cavalier will tell
you the same."
But Durward, with the feelings of youth, answered hastily, "That he
would throw down his gage to any antagonist, of equal rank and equal
age, who should presume to say such a countenance as that which he now
looked upon could be animated by other than the purest and the truest
The young woman grew deadly pale, and cast an apprehensive glance upon
Maitre Pierre, in whom the bravado of the young gallant seemed only to
Jacqueline vanished, and Maitre Pierre, after filling a goblet with
silver pieces, and bidding Quentin Durward take it and remain in the
hostelry until he had seen his kinsman, Le Balafre, also left the
Within a short time Ludovic Lesly, or Le Balafre (as he was generally
known), a robust hard-featured soldier upwards of six feet high, was
Quentin greeted his uncle, and the following day the as taken before
Lord Crawford, the commander of the Scottish Archers, the king's
bodyguard, and enrolled in that honourable corps as esquire to Le
_II.--The Scottish Archer_
Quentin, accompanying his uncle into the presence-chamber of Louis XI.,
started so suddenly that he almost dropped his weapon when he recognised
in the King of France the merchant, Maitre Pierre. No less astonished
was he when the king, whose quick eye had at once discovered him, walked
straight to the place where he was posted, and addressing Le Balafre,
said: "Your kinsman is a fair youth, though fiery. We love to cherish
such spirits, and mean to make more than ever we did of the brave men
who are around us."
A boar-hunt, wherein the life of Louis was saved from imminent danger by
the courage and dexterity of Quentin Durward, brought the young Scot
still further into royal favour: "Thou hast begun thy wood-craft well,"
said the king; "and Maitre Pierre owes thee as good an entertainment as
he gave thee in the village yonder. I like thee, and will do thee good.
Build on no man's favour but mine--not even on thine uncle's or Lord
Crawford's, and say nothing of thy timely aid in this matter of the
boar, for if a man makes boast that he has served a king in such a
pinch, he must take the braggart humour for its own recompense."
So Quentin kept silence discreetly, and was rewarded by a gold chain
from the king, by speedy promotion to the rank of free archer, and by
being employed to act as sentinel in the private gallery of Louis. And
here he once more beheld the young lady whom he had seen at his
memorable breakfast, and who had been called Jacqueline. She proved to
be the youthful Countess Isabelle, heiress of the rich earldom of Croye,
who had fled with her aunt, the Countess Hameline, from the overlordship
of the Duke of Burgundy. Had death been the penalty Durward must needs
have rendered to this beauty and her companion the same homage which he
paid to royalty. They received it as those who were accustomed to the
deference of inferiors; but he thought that the young lady coloured
slightly and seemed embarrassed.
Occupation and adventure now crowded upon Durward with the force of a
Louis, anxious to be on good terms with Burgundy, induced the ladies of
Croye to retreat from their concealment at the Court of France, and to
place themselves under the protection of the Prince Bishop of Liege.
Durward was delighted when the king told him that he was selected, with
four others under his command, to escort the Countess Isabelle and her
companion to the little court of their relative the bishop, in the
safest and most secret manner possible.
They set out at midnight, and Lady Hameline soon interrogated the
captain of her escort, and learnt that he was of noble birth.
"Methinks, my cousin," said the Lady Isabelle softly, "we must be safe
under this young gentleman's safeguard."
The journey was accomplished, not without perils and hazards, and then
four days after the arrival at the bishop's palace, the townsmen of
Liege rose in mad revolt, and, led by a ferocious noble, William de la
Marck, whom all men called the Wild Boar of Ardennes, overpowered the
bishop's guards, and seized the palace. The bishop himself was murdered
by De la Marck's orders, in his very dining hall; the Countess Isabelle
escaped under Durward's protection, while the Countess Hameline remained
to become the wife of the Wild Boar. The son of a burgher with whom
Durward had made friends undertook to guide the Countess Isabelle and
her companion to the frontiers of Burgundy.
"My resolution is taken," said the young lady; "I return to my native
country, to throw myself on the mercy of Charles, Duke of Burgundy."
"And you resolve to become the bride, then, of the Count of Campo-basso,
the unworthy favourite of Charles?" said Quentin, who had been told the
reason why refuge had been sought with Louis.
"No, Durward, no!" said the Lady Isabelle, "to that hated condition all
Burgundy's power shall not sink a daughter of the House of Croye. Burgundy
may seize on my lands and fiefs, he may imprison my person in a convent,
but that is the worst I have to expect; and worse than that I will
endure ere I give my hand to Campo-basso. Ah, Durward, were I your
sister, and could you promise me shelter in some of those mountain-glens
which you love to describe, where for charity, or for the few jewels I
have preserved, I might lead an unharassed life, and forget the lot I
was born to, that were indeed a prospect for which it were worth risk of
further censure to wander farther and wider!"
The tenderness of voice with which the Countess Isabelle made this
admission, at once filled Quentin with joy, and cut him to the very
"Lady," he said at last, "I should act foully against my honour did I
suffer you to think I have power in Scotland to afford you other
protection than that of the poor arm which is now by your side. Our
castle was stormed at midnight, and all were cut off that belonged to my
name. Even had the King of Scotland a desire to do me justice, he dared
not, for the sake of one poor individual, provoke a chief who rides with
five hundred horse."
"Alas!" said the Countess, "there is no corner of the world safe from
oppression! No more of Scotland, then; no more of Scotland!"
In the humour of mutual confidence, and forgetting the singularity of
their own situation, as well as the perils of the road, the travellers
pursued their journey for several hours.
The artificial distinction which divided the two lovers--for such we may
now term them--seemed dissolved by the circumstance in which they were
placed. For the present, the Countess was as poor as the youth, and for
her safety, honour, and life, she was exclusively indebted to his
presence of mind, valour, and devotion. They _spoke_ not, indeed, of
love, but the thoughts of it were on both sides unavoidable.
It was two hours after noon when a party of De la Marck's banditti
appeared, and shortly after a body of men-at-arms under a knight's
pennon. The former were soon put to rout by the superiority of the
latter, whose banner Countess Isabelle recognised as that of the Count
of Crevecoeur, a noble Burgundian.
"Noble Count!" said Isabelle, as Crevecoeur gazed on her with doubt and
uncertainty, "Isabelle of Croye, the daughter of your old companion in
arms, Count Reinold of Croye, renders herself, and asks protection from
your valour for her and hers."
"Thou shalt have it, fair kinswoman, were it against a host," said
Crevecoeur. "This is a rough welcome to your home, my pretty cousin, but
you and your foolish match-making aunt have made such wild use of your
wings of late, that I fear you must be contented to fold them up in a
cage for a little while. For my part, my duty will be ended when I have
conducted you to the court of the Duke, at Peronne."
_III.--A Prize for Honour_
The king had ventured, with a small company of his Scottish archers, to
be his own ambassador to his troublesome subject the Duke of Burgundy,
and Louis and Charles were together at Peronne when the news of the
revolt at Liege was brought to them by Crevecoeur, under whose escort
the Countess Isabelle returned to the protection of her suzerain.
The Countess was lodged in the Convent of the Ursulines, and with the
Lady Abbess and the Countess of Crevecoeur attended the presence of the
In vain Charles stormed and swore that she should marry whom he would.
"My lord," she replied, undismayed, "if you deprive me of my lands, you
take away all that your ancestors' generosity gave, and you break the
only bonds which attach us together. You cannot dispose the hand of any
gentlewoman by force."
The Duke, with a furious glance, turned to his secretary.
"Write," he said, "our doom of forfeiture and imprisonment against this
disobedient and insolent minion! She shall to the penitentiary, to herd
with those whose lives have rendered them her rivals in effrontery!"
There was a general murmur.
"My Lord Duke," said Crevecoeur, "this must be better thought on. We,
your faithful vassals, cannot suffer dishonour to the nobility and
chivalry of Burgundy. If the Countess hath done amiss, let her be
punished--but in the manner that becomes her rank and ours, who stand
connected with her house."
The Duke paused for a moment, and looked full at his counsellor with the
stare of a bull. Prudence, however, prevailed over fury, he saw the
sentiment was general in his council, and, being rather of a coarse and
violent, than of a malignant temper--felt ashamed of his own
"You are right, Crevecoeur," he said, "and I spoke hastily. Her fate
shall be determined according to the rules of chivalry. Her flight to
Liege hath given the signal for the bishop's murder. He that best
avenges that deed, and brings us the head of the Wild Boar of Ardennes,
shall claim her hand of us; and, if she denies his right, we can at
least grant him her lands, leaving it to his generosity to allow her
what means he will to retire into a convent."
"Nay!" said the Countess. "Think, I am the daughter of Count Reinold--of
your father's old, valiant, and faithful servant. Would you hold me out
as a prize to the best sword-player?"
"Your ancestress," said the Duke, "was won at a tourney--you shall be
fought for in real _melee_. Only thus far, for Count Reinold's sake, the
successful prizer shall be a gentleman of unimpeached birth, and
unstained bearings, but, be he such, and the poorest who ever drew the
strap of a sword-belt through the tongue of a buckle, he shall have at
least the proffer of your hand. I swear it by my ducal crown, and by the
order that I wear. Ha, messires," he added, turning to the nobles
present, "this at least is, I think, in conformity with the rules of
Isabelle's remonstrances were drowned in a general and jubilant assent,
above which was heard the voice of old Lord Crawford, regretting the
weight of years that prevented his striking for so fair a prize.
Le Balafre dared not speak aloud in such a presence, but he muttered to
"Now, Saunders Souplejaw, hold thine own! Thou always saidst the fortune
of our house was to be won by marriage, and never had you such a chance to
keep your word with us."
The Countess of Crevecoeur whispered to Isabelle, that perhaps the
successful competitor might prove one who should reconcile to obedience.
Love, like despair, catches at straws, and the tears of the Countess
Isabelle flowed more placidly while she dwelt upon the hope this
_IV.--The Winning of the Prize_
King Louis and his guards sallied from the gateway of Peronne, to join
the Burgundian army under Duke Charles, which commenced at the same time
its march against Liege. Ere the troops were fully on march Quentin
Durward received from an unknown hand a billet which Lady Hamelin had
sent to the Countess Isabelle, mentioning that her William--as she
called the Wild Boar--had determined, for purposes of policy, in the
first action to have others dressed in his coat-armour, and himself to
assume the arms of Orleans, with a bar sinister. Durward had also learnt
from other sources that the rebels of Liege hoped to scatter confusion
amongst the Burgundians by shouting _Vive la France!_
The battle began on the night of the arrival of the forces outside
Liege, when De la Marck boldly sallied out and attacked the invaders. It
was not till daybreak that the Burgundians began to show the qualities
which belong to superior discipline, and the great mass of Liegois were
compelled to retreat, and at length to fly. Soon the whole became a
confused tide of fighters, fliers, and pursuers, which rolled itself
towards the city walls, and at last poured into the undefended breach
through which the Liegois had sallied.
Quentin had seen the arms of Orleans, and made more than human exertions
to overtake the special object of his pursuit. Le Balafre, and several
of his comrades, were with him marvelling at the gallantry displayed by
so young a soldier. On the very brink of the breach, De la Marck--for it
was himself--succeeded in effecting a momentary stand. H mace of iron in
his hand, before which everything seemed to go down.
Quentin singled him out, and ascended the ruins to measure swords with
the Boar of Ardennes. A shout announced that the besiegers were entering
the city at another point, and De la Marck endeavoured to effect a
retreat, only to be prevented by Quentin, Le Balafre, and their
comrades. De la Marck found his retreat cut off, and bade his lieutenant
break through if he could, and escape. "With me it is over," he added.
"I am man enough now that I am brought to bay, to send some of these
vagabond Scots to hell before me." About six of De la Marck's best men
remained to perish with their master, and fronted the archers who were
not many more in number.
Quentin had but time to bid his uncle and comrades stand back, when De
la Marck sprang upon him with a bound; light of foot and quick of eye,
Quentin leaped aside.
They then closed like wolf and wolf-dog, their comrades on either side
remaining inactive spectators, for Le Balafre roared out for fair play.
The huge strength of the Boar of Ardennes began to give way to fatigue,
so wounded was he, but he fought on unabated in courage and ire, and
Quentin's victory seemed dubious and distant, when a female voice behind
him called him by his name, ejaculating, "Help! help! for the sake of
the blessed Virgin!"
Quentin turned his head and beheld a maiden, who with her family had
aided him to escape with Isabelle, dragged forcibly along by a French
"Wait for me but one moment!" he exclaimed to De la Marck, and sprang to
extricate the girl from her dangerous situation.
"I wait no man's pleasure," said De la Marck, flourishing his mace and
beginning to retreat.
"You shall wait mine, though, by your leave," said Balafre; "I will not
have any nephew baulked." So saying, he instantly assaulted De la Marck
with his two-handed sword.
Quentin was obliged to take the defenceless maiden to her father's
house, and in the meantime the King and the Duke of Burgundy entered the
city on horseback, and ditched orders to stop the sack of the city. When
the terrified town was restored to some moderate degree of order, Louis
and Charles proceeded to hear the claims which respected the County of
Croye and its fair mistress. Doubt and mystery involved the several
pretensions of those who claimed the merit of having dispatched the
murderer of the bishop, for the rich reward promised brought death to
all who were arrayed in De la Marck's resemblance.
In the midst of conflicting claims Crawford pressed forward into the
circle, dragging Le Balafre after him. "Away with your hoofs and hides,
and painted iron!" cried Crawford. "No one, save he who slew the Boar,
can show the tusks!"
He flung on the floor the bloody head, easily known as that of De la
Marck, and which was instantly recognised by all who had seen him.
"Crawford," said Louis, "I trust it is one of my faithful Scots who has
won this prize?"
"It is Ludovic Lesly, Sire, whom we call Le Balafre," replied the old
"But is he noble?" said the Duke. "Is he of gentle blood? Otherwise our
promise is void."
"I will warrant him a branch of the tree of Rother, as noble as any
house in France or Burgundy," said Crawford.
"There is then no help for it," said the Duke; "and the fairest and
richest heiress in Burgundy must be the wife of a rude mercenary
"May it please your Majesty, and your grace," said Crawford. "I must
speak for my countryman and old comrade. He hath acted by my advice and
resigns his claim to him by whom the Wild Boar was actually brought to
bay, who is his maternal nephew, and is of the House of Durward,
descended from that Allan Durward who was High Steward of Scotland."
"Nay, if it be young Durward," said Crevecoeur; "there is nothing more
to be said. I have much reason to believe your Grace will find her more
amenable to authority than on former occasions. But why should I grudge
this youth his preferment, since after all, it is sense, firmness, and
gallantry, which have put him in possession of wealth, rank, and
The title of "Rob Roy" was suggested by Constable, the
publisher, who one day informed the novelist that the name of
the hero would be the best possible name for the book. "Nay,"
answered Scott, "never let me have to write up to a name. You
know well that I have generally adopted a title that told
nothing." But the bookseller persevered and in the end Sir
Walter's scruples gave way. "Rob Roy," by the author of
"Waverley," was published on December 31, 1817, and although
it is not among the greatest of Scott's novels, it certainly
figures among his next best. It is crowded with incident and
adventure, and the character of Rob Roy himself will last as
long as English literature. Diana Vernon, too, is perhaps the
most attractive and surely-drawn in all Scott's gallery of
portraits of distinguished women. "Rob Roy" was dramatised
shortly after its appearance in book form; Scott himself first
witnessed a performance of it at Edinburgh on February 15,
1819, the same company later appearing in it at Glasgow before
_I.--I Meet Diana Vernon_
Early in the eighteenth century, when I, Frank Osbaldistone, was a youth
of twenty, I was hastily summoned from Bordeaux, where, in a mercantile
house, I was, as my father trusted, being initiated into the mysteries
of commerce. As a matter of fact, my principal attention had been
dedicated to literature and manly exercises.
In an evil hour, my father had received my letter, containing my
eloquent and detailed apology for declining a place in the firm, and I
was summoned home in all haste, his chief ambition being that I should
succeed, not merely to his fortune, but to the views and plans by which
he imagined he could extend and perpetuate that wealthy inheritance. I
did not understand how deeply my father's happiness was involved, and
with something of his own pertinacity, had formed a determination
precisely contrary, not conceiving that I should increase my own
happiness by augmenting a fortune which I believed already sufficient.
My father cut the matter short; when he was my age, his father had
turned him out, and settled his legal inheritance on his younger
brother; and one of that brother's sons should take my place, if I
crossed him any further.
At the end of the month he gave me to think the matter over, I found
myself on the road to York, on a reasonably good horse, with fifty
guineas in my pocket, travelling, as it would seem, for the purpose of
assisting in the adoption of a successor to myself in my father's house
and favour; he having decided that I should pay a visit to my uncle, and
stay at Osbaldistone Hall, till I should receive further instructions.
There had been such unexpected ease in the way in which my father had
slipt the knot usually esteemed the strongest that binds society
together, and let me depart as a sort of outcast from his family, that
strangely lessened my self-confidence. The Muse, too,--the very coquette
that had led me into this wilderness--deserted me, and I should have
been reduced to an uncomfortable state of dullness had it not been for
the conversation of strangers who chanced to pass the same way. One poor
man with whom I travelled a day and a half, and whose name was Morris,
afforded me most amusement. He had upon his pillion a very small, but
apparently a very weighty portmanteau, which he would never trust out of
his immediate care; and all his conversation was of unfortunate
travellers who had fallen among thieves. He wrought himself into a fever
of apprehension by the progress of his own narratives, and occasionally
eyed me with doubt and suspicion, too ludicrous to be offensive. I found
amusement in alternately exciting and lulling to sleep the causeless
fears of my timorous companion, who tried in vain to induce a Scotchman
with whom we dined in Darlington to ride with him, because the landlord
informed us "that for as peaceable a gentleman as Mr. Campbell was, he
was, moreover, as bold as a lion--seven highwaymen had he defeated with
his single arm, as he came from Whitson tryste."
"Thou art deceived, friend Jonathan," said Campbell, interrupting him.
"There were but barely two, and two cowardly loons as man could wish to
meet withal." My companion made up to him, and taking him aside seemed
to press his company upon him.
Mr. Campbell disengaged himself not very ceremoniously, and coming up to
me, observed, "Your friend, sir, is too communicative, considering the
nature of his trust."
I hastened to assure him that that gentleman was no friend of mine, and
that I knew nothing of him or his business, and we separated for the
Next day I parted company with my timid companion, turning more westerly
in the direction of my uncle's seat. I had already had a distant view of
Osbaldistone Hall, when my horse, tired as he was, pricked up his ears
at the notes of a pack of hounds in full cry. The headmost hounds soon
burst out of the coppice, followed by three or four riders with reckless
haste, regardless of the broken and difficult nature of the ground. "My
cousins," thought I, as they swept past me: but a vision interrupted my
reflections. It was a young lady, the loveliness of whose very striking
features was enhanced by the animation of the chase, whose horse made an
irregular movement as she passed me, which served as an apology for me
to ride close up to her, as if to her assistance. There was no cause for
alarm, for she guided her horse with the most admirable address and
presence of mind. One of the young men soon reappeared, waving the brush
of the fox in triumph, and after a few words the lady rode back to me
and inquired, as she could not persuade "this cultivated young
gentleman" to do so, if I had heard anything of a friend of theirs, one
Mr. Francis Osbaldistone.
I was too happy to acknowledge myself to be the party enquired after,
and she then presented to me, "as his politeness seemed still to be
slumbering," my cousin, young Squire Thorncliff Osbaldistone, and "Die
Vernon, who has also the honour to be your accomplished cousin's poor
After shaking hands with me, he left us to help couple up the hounds,
and Miss Vernon rode with me to Osbaldistone Hall, giving me, on the
way, a description of its inmates, of whom, she said, the only
conversible beings beside herself were the old priest and Rashleigh--Sir
Hildebrand's youngest son.
Rashleigh Osbaldistone was a striking contrast to his young brothers,
all tall, stout, and comely, without pretence to accomplishment except
their dexterity in field sports. He welcomed me with the air of a man of
the world, and though his appearance was far from prepossessing, he was
possessed of a voice the most soft, mellow, and rich I ever heard. He
had been intended for a priest, but when my father's desire to have one
of Sir Hildebrand's sons in his counting-house was known, he had been
selected, as, indeed, the only one who could be considered at all
The day after my arrival, Miss Vernon, as we were following the hounds,
showed me in the distance the hills of Scotland, and told me I could be
there in safety in two hours. To my dismay, she explained that my
timorous fellow-traveller had been robbed of money and dispatches, and
accused me. The magistrate had let my uncle know, and both he and Miss
Vernon, considering it a merit to distress a Hanoverian government in
every way, never doubted my guilt, and only showed the way of escape. On
my indignant denial, Miss Vernon rode with me to the magistrate's, where
we met Rashleigh, and after a hasty private talk with him, in which from
earnest she became angry and flung away from him, saying, "I will have
it so." Immediately after we heard his horse's hoofs in rapid motion;
and very shortly afterwards Mr. Campbell, the very Scotchman we had met
at Darlington, entered the Justice's room, and giving him a billet from
the Duke of Argyll to certify that he, Mr. Robert Campbell, was a person
of good fame and character, prevailed on the magistrate to discharge me,
for he had been with my late fellow-traveller at the time of the
robbery, and could swear that the robber was a very different person.
Morris was apparently more terrified than ever, but agreed to all Mr.
Campbell said, and left the house with him.
Miss Vernon made me promise to ask no questions, and I only entreated
her, if at any time my services could be useful to her, she would
command them without hesitation.
Before Rashleigh's departure, I had realised his real character, and
wrote to Owen, my father's old clerk, to hint that he should keep a
strict guard over my father's interests. Notwithstanding Miss Vernon had
charged Rashleigh with perfidious conduct towards herself, they had
several private interviews together, though their bearing did not seem
cordial; and he and I took up distant ground, each disposed to avoid all
pretext for collision.
I began to think it strange I had received no letter either from my
father or Owen, though I had now been several weeks at Osbaldistone
Hall--where the mode of life was too uniform to admit of description.
Diana Vernon and I enjoyed much of our time in our mutual studies;
although my vanity early discovered that I had given her an additional
reason for disliking the cloister, to which she was destined if she
would not marry any of Sir Hildebrand's sons, I could not confide in our
affection, which seemed completely subordinate to the mysteries of her
singular situation. She would not permit her love to overpower her sense
of duty or prudence, and one day proved this by advising me at once to
return to London--my father was in Holland, she said, and if Rashleigh
was allowed to manage his affairs long, he would be ruined. He would use
my father's revenues as a means of putting in motion his own ambitious
I seized her hand and pressed it to my lips--the world could never
compensate for what I left behind me, if I left the Hall.
"This is folly! This is madness!" she cried, and my eyes, following the
direction of hers, I saw the tapestry shake, which covered the door of
the secret passage to Rashleigh's apartment. Prudence, and the necessity
of suppressing my passion and obeying Diana's reiterated command of
"Leave me! leave me!" came in time to prevent any rash action. I left
the apartment in a chaos of thoughts. Above all I was perplexed by the
manner in which Miss Vernon had received my tender of affection, and the
glance of fear rather than surprise with which she had watched the
motion of the tapestry. I resolved to clear up the mystery, and that
evening, at a time when I usually did not visit the library, I,
hesitating a moment with my hand on the latch, heard a suppressed
footstep within, opened the door, and found Miss Vernon alone.
I had determined to seek a complete explanation, but found she refused
it with indignant defiance, and avowed to my face the preference for a
rival. And yet, when I was about to leave her for ever, it cost her but
a change of look and tone to lead me back, her willing subject on her
own hard terms, agreeing that we could be nothing to each other but
friends now or henceforward. She then gave me a letter which she said
might never have reached my hands if it had not fallen into hers. It was
from my father's partner, Mr. Tresham, to tell me that Rashleigh had
gone to Scotland some time since to take up bills granted by my father,
and had not since been heard of, that Owen had been dispatched in search
of him, and I was entreated to go after him, and assist to save my
father's mercantile honour. Having read this, Diana left me for a
moment, and returned with a sheet of paper folded like a letter, but
without any address. "If I understand you rightly," she said, "the funds
in Rashleigh's possession must be recovered by a certain day. Take this
packet; do not open it till other means have failed; within ten days of
the fated day you may break the seal, and you will find directions that
may be useful to you. Adieu, Frank, we never meet more; but sometimes
think of your friend Die Vernon."
She extended her hand, but I clasped her to my bosom. She sighed and
escaped to her own apartment, and I saw her no more.
_III.--In the Highlands_
I had not been a day in Glasgow before, in obedience to a mysterious
summons, I met Mr. Campbell, and was by him guided to the prison where
my poor old friend Owen was confined. On his arrival two days before, he
had gone to one of my father's correspondents, trusting that they who
heretofore could not do too much to deserve the patronage of their good
friends in Crane Alley, would now give their counsel and assistance.
They met this with a counter-demand of instant security against ultimate
loss, and when this was refused as unjust to the other creditors of
Osbaldistone & Tresham, they had thrown him into prison, as he had a
small share in the firm. In the midst of our sorrowful explanation we
were disturbed by a loud knocking at the outer door of the prison. The
Highland turnkey, with as much delay as possible, undid the fastenings,
my guide sprang up the stair, and into Owen's apartment. He cast his
eyes around, and then said to me, "Lend me your pistols. Yet, no, I can
do without them. Whatever you see, take no heed, and do not mix your
hand in another man's feud. This gear's mine, and I must manage it as
best I can. I have been as hard bested and worse than I am even now." As
he spoke, he confronted the iron door, like a fine horse brought up to
But instead of a guard with bayonets fixed, there entered a good-looking
young woman, ushering in a short, stout, important person--a magistrate.
"A bonny thing it is, and a beseeming, that I should be kept at the door
half-an-hour, Captain Stanchells," said he, addressing the principal
jailer, who now showed himself. "How's this? how's this? Strangers in
the jail after lock-up hours! I must see into this. But, first, I must
hae a crack with an auld acquaintance here. Mr. Owen, Mr. Owen, how's a'
wi' you man?"
"Pretty well in body, I thank you, Mr. Jarvie," drawled out poor Owen,
"but sore afflicted in spirit."
Mr. Jarvie was another correspondent of my father's whom Owen had had no
great belief in, largely because of his great opinion of himself. He now
showed himself kindly and sensible, and asked Owen to let him see some
papers he mentioned. While examining them, he observed my mysterious
guide make a slight movement, and said, "I say, look to the door,
Stanchells; shut it, and keep watch on the outside."
Mr. Jarvie soon showed himself master of what he had been considering,
and saying he could not see how Mr. Owen could arrange his affairs if he
were kept lying there, undertook to be his surety and to have him free
by breakfast time. He then took the light from the servant-maid's hand,
and advanced to my guide, who awaited his scrutiny with great calmness,
seated on the table. "Eh! oh! ah!" exclaimed the Bailie. "My conscience!
it's impossible! and yet, no! Conscience, it canna be. Ye robber! ye
cateran! born devil that ye are--can this be you?"
"E'en as ye see, Bailie," said he.
"Ye are a dauring villain, Rob," answered the Bailie; "and ye will be
hanged. But bluid's thicker than water. Whar's the gude thousand pounds
Scots than I lent ye, man, and when am I to see it again?"
"As to when you'll see it--why, just 'when the King enjoys his ain
again,' as the auld sang says."
"Worst of a', Robin," retorted the Bailie. "I mean ye disloyal
traitor--worst of a'! Ye had better stick to your auld trade o'
theft-boot and blackmail than ruining nations. And wha the deevil's
this?" he continued, turning to me.
Owen explained that I was young Mr. Frank Osbaldistone, the only child
of the head of the house, and the Bailie, Nicol Jarvie, having
undertaken Owen's release, took me home to sleep at his house.
I was astonished that Mr. Campbell should appear to Mr. Jarvie as the
head of a freebooting Highland clan, and dismayed to think that Diana's
fate could be involved in that of desperadoes of this man's description.
The packet which Diana Vernon had given me I had opened in the presence
of the Highlander, for the ten days had elapsed, and a sealed letter had
dropped out. This had at once been claimed by Mr. Campbell, or Rob
MacGregor, as Mr. Jarvie called him, and the address showed that it had
gone to its rightful owner.
Before we parted, MacGregor bade me visit him in the Highlands, and I
kept this appointment in company with the Bailie. Strange to say, in the
Highlands I met Diana Vernon, escorted by a single horseman, and from
her received papers which had been in Rashleigh's possession. There was
fighting in the Highlands, and the Bailie and I were both more than once
in peril of our lives.
_IV.--Rob Roy to the Rescue_
No sooner had we returned from our dangerous expedition than I sought
out Owen. He was not alone--my father was with him.
The first impulse was to preserve the dignity of his usual
equanimity--"Francis, I am glad to see you." The next was to embrace me
tenderly--"my dear, dear son!"
When the tumult of our joy was over, I learnt that my father had arrived
from Holland shortly after Owen had set off for Scotland. By his
extensive resources, with funds enlarged and credit fortified, he easily
put right what had befallen only, perhaps, through his absence, and set
out for Scotland to exact justice from Rashleigh Osbaldistone.
The full extent of my cousin Rashleigh's villainy I had yet to learn. In
the rebellion of 1715, when in an ill-omened hour the standard of the
Stuart was set up, to the ruin of many honourable families, Rashleigh,
with more than another Jacobite agent, revealed the plot to the
Government. My poor uncle, Sir Hildebrand, was easily persuaded to join
the standard of the Stuarts, and was soon taken and lodged in Newgate.
He died in prison, but before he died he spoke with great bitterness
against Rashleigh, now his only surviving child, and declared that
neither he nor his sons who had perished would have plunged into
political intrigue but for that very member of his family who had been
the first to desert them. By his will, Sir Hildebrand devised his
estates at Osbaldistone Hall to me as his next heir, cutting off
Rashleigh with a shilling.
Rashleigh had yet one more card to play. The villain was aware that
Diana's father, Sir Frederick Vernon, whose life had been forfeited for
earlier Jacobite plots, lived in hiding at Osbaldistone Hall, and this
had given him power over Miss Vernon.
Some time after I had returned to my father's office, I decided to visit
Osbaldistone and take possession. On my arrival, Diana met me in the
dining hall with her father.
"We are your suppliants, Mr. Osbaldistone," said the old knight; "we
claim the refuge and protection of your roof till we can pursue a
journey where dungeons and death gape for me at every step."
"Surely," I articulated, "Miss Vernon cannot suppose me capable of
betraying anyone, much less you?"
But scarcely had they retired to rest that night, when Rashleigh arrived
with officers of the law, and exhibited his warrant, not only against
Frederick Vernon, an attainted traitor, but also against Diana Vernon,
spinster, and Francis Osbaldistone, accused of connivance at treason. He
provided a coach for his prisoners, but in the park a number of
Highlanders had gathered.
"Claymore!" cried the leader of the Highlanders, as the coach appeared,
and a scuffle instantly commenced. The officers of the law, surprised at
so sudden an attack, conceived themselves surrounded, and galloped off
in different directions.
Rashleigh fell, mortally wounded by the leader of the band, who the next
instant was at the carriage door. It was Rob Roy, who handed out Miss
Vernon, and assisted her father and me to alight.
"Mr. Osbaldistone," he said, in a whisper, "you have nothing to fear; I
must look after those who have. Your friends will soon be in safety.
Farewell, and forget not the MacGregor."
He whistled; his band gathered round him, and, hurrying Diana and her
father along with him, they were almost instantly lost in the glades of
The death of Rashleigh, who had threatened to challenge at law my right
to Osbaldistone Hall, left me access to my inheritance without
interference. It was at once admitted that the ridiculous charge of
connivance at treason was got up by an unscrupulous attorney on an
affidavit made with the sole purpose of favouring Rashleigh's views, and
removing me from Osbaldistone Hall.
I learnt subsequently that the opportune appearance of MacGregor and his
party was not fortuitous. The Scottish nobles and gentry engaged in the
insurrection of 1715 were particularly anxious to further the escape of
Sir Frederick Vernon, who, as an old and trusted agent of the house of
Stuart, was possessed of matter enough to have ruined half Scotland, and
Rob Roy was the person whom they pitched upon to assist his escape. Once
at large, they found horses prepared for them, and by MacGregor's
knowledge of the country were conducted to the western sea-coast, and
safely embarked for France. From the same source I also learnt that Sir
Frederick could not long survive a lingering disease, and that his
daughter was placed in a convent, although it was her father's wish she
should take the veil only on her own inclination.
When these news reached me, I frankly told the state of my affections to
my father. After a little hesitation he broke out with "I little thought
a son of mine should have been lord of Osbaldistone Manor, and far less
that he should go to a French convent for a spouse. But so dutiful a
daughter cannot but prove a good wife. You have worked at the desk to
please me, Frank, it is but fair you should wive to please yourself."
Long and happily I lived with Diana, and heavily I lamented her death.
Rob Roy died in old age and by a peaceful death some time about 1733,
and is still remembered in his country as the Robin Hood of Scotland.
* * * * *
"The Talisman," the most famous of Scott's "Tales of the
Crusaders," was written 1824-25, when the fortunes of its
author were already threatened. The building of Abbotsford was
finished, and the heavy financial losses which fell on Sir
Walter, and drove him to write at a speed fatal to his genius,
soon followed. "The Talisman" and "The Fair Maid of Perth,"
which appeared three years later, are the only two of the
Waverley Novels published in those later years which are
worthy of their author's fame. The Talisman itself has always
been deservedly popular. It is full of colour, mystery, plot,
and counterplot, and Sir Kenneth's performances in
withstanding the jealous enemies of Richard Coeur-de-Lion glow
with life. Conrade of Montserrat, Richard's opponent in the
armies of the Crusaders, was a well-known figure in the wars
against the Saracens, and when he perished at their hands, it
was said that Richard instigated his death.
_I.--The Knight of the Leopard_
The burning sun of Syria had not yet attained its highest point when a
Knight of the Red Cross was pacing slowly along the sandy deserts in the
vicinity of the Dead Sea. At noon he joyfully hailed the sight of two or
three palm trees, and his good horse, too, lifted up his head as if he
snuffed from afar off the living waters which marked the place of repose
and refreshment. But a distant form separated itself from the trees, and
advanced towards the knight at a speed which soon showed a Saracen
cavalier. The Crusader, whose arms were a couchant leopard, disengaged
his lance, and well acquainted with the customs of Eastern warriors,
made a dead halt, confident that his own weight would give him the
advantage if the enemy advanced to the actual shock; but the Saracen,
wheeling his horse with inimitable dexterity, rode round the Christian,
who, constantly turning, frustrated his attempts to attack him in an
unguarded point, until, desirous to terminate the elusory warfare, the
knight suddenly seized the mace which hung at his saddle-bow, and hurled
it at the head of the Emir, who, though beaten to the ground, instantly
sprang again into his seat and regained the advantage, enlarging his
circles, and discharging arrows. At the seventh, the Christian knight
dropped heavily to the ground, and the Saracen dismounting to examine
his fallen foe, suddenly found himself in his grasp. He unloosed the
sword belt in which the Knight of the Leopard had fixed his hold,
mounted, and again rode off. But the loss of his sword and quiver of
arrows seemed to incline the Muslim to a truce; he again approached the
Christian, but no longer menacingly.
"There is truce betwixt our nations," he said. "Let there be peace
"I am well content," answered he of the couchant leopard, and the late
foes, without an angry look or a gesture of doubt, rode side by side to
the palm trees; where each relieved his horse from saddle, bit, and
rein, and permitted them to drink ere they refreshed themselves. As they
sat down together on the turf, and proceeded to their scanty meal, they
eyed each other with curiosity, and each was compelled to acknowledge
that had he fallen in the combat, it had been by a noble foe. The
warriors arose from their brief rest, and courteously aided each other
while they replaced the harness of their trusty steeds, and pursued
their way, the Saracen performing the part of guide, to the cavern of
the hermit, Theodorich of England, with whom Sir Kenneth was to pass the
night in penitence and prayer.
The scene must change to the camp of King Richard of England, who,
afflicted with a slow and wasting fever, lay on his couch of sickness,
loathing it as much in mind as his illness made it irksome to his body.
"Hark, what trumpets are there?" he said, endeavouring to start up. "By
heaven! the Turks are in the camp, I hear their lelies!" Breathless and
exhausted he sank back. "Go, I pray thee, De Vaux, and bring me word
what strangers are in the camp." Sir Thomas de Vaux had not made many
steps from the royal pavilion when he met the Knight of the Leopard,
who, accosting him with formal courtesy, desired to see the king; he had
brought back with him a Moorish physician, who had undertaken to work a
cure. Sir Thomas answered haughtily that no leech should approach the
sick bed without his, the Baron of Gilsland's, consent, and turned
loftily away; but the Scot, though not without expressing his share of
pride, solemnly assured him that he desired but the safety of Richard,
and Saladin himself had sent thither this Muslim physician. Sir
Kenneth's squire had been suffering dangerously under the same fever,
and the leech, El Hakim, had ministered to him not two hours before, and
already he was in a refreshing sleep.
"May I see your sick squire, fair sir?" at length said the Englishman.
The Scottish knight hesitated and coloured, yet answered at last:
"Willingly, my lord of Gilsland, but I am poorly lodged," and led the
way to his temporary abode.
"This is a strange tale, Sir Thomas," said the king, when he had heard
the report. "Art thou sure that this Scottish man is a tall man and
"I cannot say, my lord," replied the jealous borderer; "I have ever
found the Scots fair and false, but the man's bearing is that of a true
man, and I warrant you have noted the manner in which he bears himself
as a knight. He hath been fully well spoken of."
"And justly, Thomas," said the king. "Yes, I have indeed marked the
manner in which this knight does his devoir, and he had ere now tasted
your bounty but that I have also marked his audacious presumption."
"My liege," said the Baron of Gilsland, "your majesty will pardon me to
remind you that I have by mine office right to grant liberty to men of
gentle blood, to keep a hound or two within the camp, and besides, it
were a sin to harm a thing so noble as this gentleman's dog, the most
perfect creature of heaven, of the noblest northern breed."
The king laughed.
"Well, thou hast given him leave to keep the hound, so there is an end
of it. But to this piece of learned heathenness--say'st thou the Scot
met him in the desert?"
"No, my liege, the Scot's tale runs thus: He was dispatched to the old
hermit of Engaddi--"
"'Sdeath and hell!" said Richard, starting up, "by whom dispatched, and
for what? Who would send anyone thither when our queen was in the
convent of Engaddi?"
"The Council of the Crusade sent him, my lord," the baron answered, "but
for what purpose he declined to account to me."
"Well, it shall be looked into," said Richard. "So this envoy met with a
wandering physician at Engaddi, ha!"
"Not so, my liege, but he met a Saracen Emir, who understood that
Saladin should send his own leech to you. He is attended as if he were a
prince, and brings with him letters of credence from Saladin."
Richard took the scroll and read.
"Hold, hold," he said. "I will have no more of this dog of a prophet.
Yes, I will put myself in charge of this Hakim--I will repay the noble
Soldan his generosity--I will meet him in the field as he proposes.
Haste, De Vaux, fetch the Hakim hither."
Scarcely had De Vaux left the royal pavilion when the king, to soothe
his impatience, sent a messenger to command the attendance of the Knight
of the Leopard, that he might obtain an account of the cause of his
absence from the camp.
"Hark thee, Sir Knight," said the king, "I require you to remember that,
as a principal member of the Christian League, I have a right to know
the negotiations of my confederates. Do me, therefore, the justice to
tell me the purport of thine errand."
"My lord," replied the Scot, "I will speak the truth. Be pleased,
therefore, to know my charge was to propose through the medium of the
hermit--a holy man, respected and protected by Saladin himself--the
establishment of a lasting peace, and the withdrawing of our armies from
"Saint George!" said Richard. "Ill as I have thought of them, I could
not have dreamed of such dishonour. On what conditions was this hopeful
peace to be contracted?"
"They were not entrusted to me, my lord," said Sir Kenneth. "I delivered
them sealed to the hermit. Might I so far presume, my lord king, this
discourse but heats your disease, the enemy from which Christendom
dreads more evil than from armed hosts of infidels."
"You can flatter, Sir Knight," said the king, "but you escape me not. Saw
you my royal consort at Engaddi?"
"To my knowledge, no, my lord," said Sir Kenneth in some perturbation.
"I beheld a choir of ladies do homage to a relic of the highest
sanctity, but I saw not their faces."
"I ask you," said Richard, raising himself on his elbow, "as a knight
and a gentleman, did you or did you not, know any lady amongst that band
"My lord," said Kenneth, not without much hesitation, "I might guess."
"And I also might guess," said the king, frowning sternly. "But it is
enough. Leopard as you are, Sir Knight, beware o' tempting the lion's
paw. Enough--begone!--speed to De Vaux and send him hither with the
Richard, when the physician, accompanied by the Grand Master of the
Templars, Montserrat, with De Vaux and the Knight of the Leopard,
entered his apartment, immediately exclaimed:
"So, ho, a goodly fellowship come to see Richard take his leap in the
dark. My noble allies, I greet you as the representatives of our
assembled league--De Vaux, lives he or dies he, thou hast the thanks of
thy prince--There is yet another--What, the bold Scot, who would climb
heaven without a ladder? He is welcome, too. Come, Sir Hakim, to the
work, to the work."
The physician now felt the king's pulse for a long time, then filled a
cup with water, and dipt in it a small red purse, which he took from his
bosom. He was about to offer it to the king, but he prevented him,
"Hold an instant, let me lay my finger on _thy_ pulse."
The Arabian yielded his hand without hesitation.
"His blood beats calm as an infant's; so throbs not theirs who poison
princes," said the king, "De Vaux, whether we live or die, dismiss this
Hakim with honour. Commend us, friend, to the noble Saladin."
He then took the cup, and turning to the Marquis of Montserrat and the
grand master: "Mark what I say. To the immortal honour of the first
Crusader who shall strike lance or sword on the gate of Jerusalem and to
the eternal infamy of whomsoever shall turn back from the plough on
which he hath laid his hand." He drained the cup and sank back as if
The hour had arrived when the royal patient might be awakened with
safety. The fever had entirely left him, and King Richard sitting up and
rubbing his eyes demanded what present store of money was in the royal
"Be it greater or smaller," he said, "bestow it all on the learned leech
who hath given me back to the service of the Crusade."
"I sell not the wisdom with which Allah has endowed me," said the Arab.
"It is reward enough for me that so great a king as Melech Ric should
thus speak to his servant. But now let me pray you to compose yourself
again on the couch."
"I must obey thee, Hakim," said the king. "But what mean these shouts
and distant music in the camp?"
The Marquis of Montserrat at that moment entered.
"Honoured prince," he said, "I delight to see your majesty so far
recovered, and that is a long speech for me to make who has partaken of
the Duke of Austria's hospitality."
"What, you have been dining with the Teutonic wine skin!" said the
monarch. "And what frolic hath he found to cause all this disturbance?
Truly, Sir Conrade, I wonder at your quitting the revel."
"What the Archduke does," said Conrade de Montserrat, not heeding De
Vaux's sign, "is of little consequence to anyone; yet to say truth, this
is a gambol I should not like to share in, since he is pulling down the
banner of England, and displaying his own in its stead."
"_What_ say'st thou?" exclaimed Richard, springing from his couch and
casting on his clothes with marvellous speed. "Speak not to me--I
command thee, speak not a word to me--Hakim, be silent I charge thee!"
And with the last word he snatched his sword and rushed out. Conrade
held up his hands as if in astonishment. De Vaux pushed rudely past him
calling orders in haste to the equerries, which, imperfectly heard,
spread an alarm as general as the cause seemed vague, through the whole
Without regarding the tumult, Richard pursued his way, followed only by
De Vaux and a few servants; but the Knight of the Leopard, as they
passed him, aware that danger must be afoot, snatched his sword and
shield, and hastened to share it. Richard burst his way through a crowd
of the Archduke's friends and retinue, pulled up the standard-spear,
threw the Austrian banner on the ground, and placed his foot upon it.
"Thus," said he, "I trample on the banner of Austria!"
A Hungarian nobleman struck at the king a blow that might have proved
fatal had not the Scot intercepted it, while Richard glanced round him
with an eye from which the angry nobles shrank appalled, until the King
of France, whose sagacity Richard much respected, came and remonstrated.
The duke at last said he would refer his quarrel to the General Council
of the Crusade.
Richard listened to Philip until his oratory seemed exhausted, then said
"I am drowsy--this fever hangs upon me still. Brother of France, know,
at once, I will submit a matter touching the honour of England neither
to prince, pope, nor council. Here stands my banner--whatever pennon
shall be reared within three butts' length of it--shall be treated as
that dishonoured rag."
Philip answered calmly he would have no other strife between the Lions
of England and the Lilies of France than which should be carried deepest
into the ranks of the infidels. Richard stretched out his hand, with all
the frankness of his rash but generous disposition, and replied:
"It is a bargain, my royal brother! Here, Thomas of Gilsland, I give
thee charge of this standard--watch over the honour of England."
"Her safety is yet more dear to me," said De Vaux, "and the life of
Richard is the safety of England. I must have your highness back to your
tent without further tarriance."
"Thou art a rough and peremptory nurse, De Vaux," said the king, and
then addressing Sir Kenneth: "Valiant Scot, I owe thee a boon; and I
will repay it richly. There stands the banner of England! Watch it as a
novice doth his armour. Stir not from it three spears' lengths, and
defend it with thy body against injury or insult--Dost thou undertake
"Willingly," said Kenneth, "and will discharge it upon penalty of my
head. I will but arm me and return thither instantly."
Those whom the disturbance had assembled now drew off in various
directions, and the Marquis of Montserrat said to the Grand Master of
"Thou seest that subtle courses are more effective than violence. I have
unloosed the bonds which held together this bunch of sceptres and
lances--thou wilt see them shortly fall asunder."
_III.--Richard and Sir Kenneth_
It was about sunrise when a slow armed tread was heard approaching the
king's pavilion and De Vaux had time to do no more than arise when the
Knight of the Leopard entered, with deep gloom on his manly features.
Richard, awaking on the instant, exclaimed:
"Speak, Sir Scot, thou comest to tell me of a vigilant watch?"
"My watch hath been neither safe, vigilant, nor honourable," said Sir
Kenneth. "The banner of England has been carried off."
"And thou alive to tell it?" said Richard. "Away, it cannot be. There is
not even a scratch on thy face. It is ill jesting with a King--yet I
will forgive thee if thou hast lied."
"Lied, Sir King!" returned the knight with fierce emphasis. "But this
also must be endured. I have spoken the truth."
"By God and St. George!" said the king with fury. "De Vaux, go view the
spot. This cannot be. The man's courage is proof--it cannot be! Go
speedily--or send, if--"
The King was interrupted by Sir Henry Neville, who came, breathless, to
say the banner was gone, and there was a pool of blood where the
"But whom do I see here?" said Neville, his eyes suddenly resting upon
"A traitor," said the king, seizing his curtal-axe, "whom thou shalt see
die a traitor's death." And he drew back the weapon as in act to strike.
Colourless, but firm as a marble statue, the Scot stood before him, his
head uncovered, his eyes cast down. The king stood for a moment prompt
to strike, then lowering the weapon, exclaimed:
"But there was blood, Neville--Hark thee, Sir Scot, brave thou wert
once, for I have seen thee fight. Say thou hast struck but one blow in
our behalf, and get thee out of the camp with thy life and thy infamy."
"There was no blood shed, my lord king," replied Kenneth, "save that of
a poor hound, which, more faithful than his master, defended the charge
"Now, by St. George," said Richard, again heaving up his arm, but De
Vaux threw himself between him and the object of his vengeance. There
was a pause.
"My lord," said Kenneth.
"Ha! hast thou found thy speech?" said Richard. "Ask grace from heaven,
but none from me. Wert thou my own and only brother, there is no pardon
for thy fault."
"I speak not to demand grace of mortal man," replied the Scot. "I
beseech your grace for one moment's opportunity to speak that which
highly concerns your fame as a Christian king. There is treason around
"Treason that will injure thee more deeply than the loss of a hundred
banners. The--the--the Lady Edith--"
"Ha!" said the king, "what was she to do with this matter?"
"My lord," said the Scot, "there is a scheme on foot to disgrace your
royal lineage, by bestowing the hand of the Lady Edith on the Saracen
Soldan, and thereby to purchase a peace most dishonourable to
The mention of his relative's name renewed the King's recollection of
what he had considered extreme presumption in the Knight of the Leopard,
even while he stood high on the rolls of chivalry, and now appeared to
drive the fiery monarch into a frenzy of passion.
"Silence," he said, "infamous and audacious. By heaven, I will have thy
tongue torn out with hot pincers for mentioning the very name of a noble
damsel! With lips blistered with the confession of thine own
dishonour--that thou shouldest now dare--name her not--for an instant
think not of her."
"Not name--not think of her?" answered Sir Kenneth. "Now by the cross on
which I place my hope, her name shall be the last word in my mouth. Try
thy boasted strength on this bare brow, and see if thou canst prevent my
"He will drive me mad," said Richard, once more staggered by the
dauntless determination of the criminal.
A bustle was heard and the arrival of the queen was announced.
"Detain her, Neville," cried the king. "Away with him, De Vaux; let him
have a ghostly father--and, hark thee, we will not have him dishonoured;
he shall die knight-like in his belt and spurs."
The entrance of Queen Berengaria was withstood by the chamberlain, and
she could hear the stern commands of the king from within to the
executioner. Edith could no longer remain silent:
"_I_ will make entrance for your grace," she said, putting aside the
On their sudden entrance Richard flung himself hastily aside, turning
his back to them as if displeased.
"Thou seest, Edith," whispered the queen, "we shall but incense him."
"Be it so," said Edith, stepping forward. "I--your poor kinswoman, crave
you for justice rather than mercy, and to that cry the ear of a monarch
should be ever open."
"Ha! our cousin Edith!" said Richard, rising. "She speaks ever
king-like, and king-like I will answer her."
"My lord," she said, "this good knight whose blood you are about to
spill hath fallen from his duty through a snare set for him in idleness
and folly. A message sent to him in the name of one--why should I not
speak it?--it was in my own--induced him to leave his post."
"And you saw him then, cousin?" said the king, biting his lips to keep
down his passion. "Where?"
"In the tent of her majesty, the queen."
"Of your royal consort! Now, by my father's soul, Edith, thou shalt rue
this thy life long in a monastery."
"My liege," said Edith, "your greatness licences tyranny. My honour is
as little touched as yours, and my lady, the queen, can prove it if she
thinks fit. But I have not come here to excuse myself or inculpate
The king was about to answer with much anger, when a Carmelite monk
entered hastily, and flinging himself on his knees before the king,
conjured him to stop the execution. It was the hermit of Engaddi, and to
the king's fierce refusal to listen, he said with irritation:
"Thou art setting that mischief on foot thou wilt afterwards wish thou
hadst stopped, though it had cost thee a limb. Rash, blinded man,
"Away, away," cried the king, stamping. "The sun has risen on the
dishonour of England, and it is not yet avenged. Ladies and priests
withdraw, for by St. George, I swear--"
"Swear _not!_" said the voice of one who now entered--
"Ho! my learned Hakim," said the king, "come, I hope, to tax our
"I come to request instant speech with you--instant."
"Retire then, Berengaria," said the monarch. "Nay, renew not thy
importunities--nay, this I give to thee--the execution shall not be till
high noon. Edith, go--if you are wise."
The females hurried from the tent, and El Hakim made his humble prayer
for the knight about to die. The king hardening himself as the leech
assumed a more lofty tone:
"Know, then," he said, "that through every court of Europe and Asia will
I denounce thee as thankless and ungenerous."
Richard turned fiercely from him.
"Hakim, thou hast chosen thy boon, and I may not, king-like, refuse
thee. Take this Scot, therefore, use him as thy bond-slave if thou wilt,
only let him beware how he comes before the eyes of Richard. Is there
aught else in which I may do thee pleasure?"
"Let me touch that victorious hand," said the sage, "in token that
should Adonbec El Hakim hereafter demand a boon of Richard of England,
he may do so."
"Thou hast hand and glove upon it, man," replied Richard.
"May thy days be multiplied," answered the Hakim.
"Strange pertinacity," said the King, gazing after him as he departed,
"in this Hakim to interfere between this Scot and the chastisement he
has merited so richly. Yet, let him live! there is one brave man the
more in the world."
_IV.--The Victory of Sir Kenneth_
Surrounded by his valiant knights, Coeur de Lion stood beside the banner
of England while the powers of the various Crusading Princes swept round
before him; their commanders, as they passed, making a signal of
courtesy "in sign of regard and amity," as the protocol of the ceremony
heedfully expressed it, "not of vassalage." By the king's side stood an
Ethiopian slave, recently sent to Richard by Saladin, holding a noble
dog in a leash, who watched the ranks with a sagacious look as they
passed. King Richard looked more than once at the Nubian and his dog,
and at last said:
"Thy success, my sable friend, will not place thee high in the list of
But Conrade of Montserrat no sooner came within his ken than the noble
hound, uttering a furious yell (the Nubian at the same time slipping his
leash), leapt upon the noble charger, and seizing the marquis by the
throat, pulled him from the saddle.
The Ethiopian, though not without difficulty, disengaged the dog; while
the voice of Richard, loud and sonorous, was heard clear above all
"He dies the death who injures the hound. Stand forward for a false
traitor, Conrade of Montserrat. I impeach thee of treason!"
When King Richard returned to his tent some hours later, he commanded
the Nubian to be brought before him, and his keen glance surveyed him
for some time in silence.
"Thou art about to return to the camp of the Soldan, bearing a letter
requiring of his country to appoint neutral ground for the deed of
chivalry, and should it consort with his pleasure to concur with us in
witnessing it. Now, we think thou might'st find in that camp some
cavalier, who, for the love of truth, will do battle with this same
traitor of Montserrat?"
The Nubian turned his eyes to the king with eager ardour, then to heaven
with solemn gratitude, then bent his head as affirming what Richard
"It is well," said the king; "I see thy desire to oblige me in this
matter; with thee to hear is to obey."
* * * * *
The two heroic monarchs embraced as brothers and equals, the pomp and
display on both sides attracted no further notice. No one saw aught but
Richard and Saladin. The looks with which Richard surveyed Saladin were
more curious than those which the Soldan fastened on him, and when later
Saladin exchanged his turban for a Tartar cap Richard gazed with
astonishment and exclaimed:
"A miracle--a miracle! That I should lose my learned Hakim and find him
again in my royal brother? It was by thy artifice the Knight of the
Leopard visited my camp in disguise? He will do battle on the morrow?"
"He is full of preparation and high in hope," said Saladin. "I have
furnished him with weapons and horse, thinking nobly of him from what I
have seen under various disguises."
* * * * *
Drum, clarion, trumpet and cymbal rung forth at once in honour of
"Brave Knight of the Leopard," said Coeur de Lion, "thou hast shown the
Ethiopian may change his skin, and the leopard his spots. I have more to
say to you when I have conducted you to the presence of the ladies. And
thou, princely Saladin, will also attend them."
Saladin bent his head gracefully, but declined.
"I must attend the wounded man," said he, "and further, Royal Richard,
he saith the sage who hath forfeited a treasure doth not wisely to turn
back to gaze on it."
"Come," said Richard, "we will to the pavilion, and lead our conqueror
thither in triumph."
The victor entered and knelt gracefully down before the queen, though
more than half the homage was silently rendered to Edith.
"Unarm him, my mistresses," said the king. "Let Beauty honour Chivalry.
Undo his spurs, Berengaria. Unlace his helmet, Edith--by this hand, thou
shalt. Here terminate his various disguises. The adventurous Knight
Kenneth, arises David, Earl of Huntington, Prince Royal of Scotland."
The next day saw Richard return to his own camp, and in a short space
afterwards the young Earl of Huntington was espoused by Edith
The Soldan sent, as a nuptial present on this occasion, the celebrated
talisman; but, though many cures were wrought with it in Europe, none
equalled in success and celebrity those which the Soldan achieved.
* * * * *
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the daughter of William Godwin
(see Vol. IV) and Mary Wollstonecraft, was born in London,
August 30, 1797, and married to the poet Shelley in 1816, on
the death of his first wife Harriet. Two years previous to
this she had eloped with Shelley (see Vol. XVIII) to
Switzerland, and they lived together in Italy till his death
in 1823, when Mrs. Shelley returned to England, and continued
her literary work. "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus,"
the first of Mary Shelley's books, was published in 1818, and
owed its origin to the summer spent by the Shelleys on the
shores of Geneva when Byron was their neighbour. It was "a
wet, ungenial summer," according to the account Mary Shelley
has left. "Some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the
German into French, fell into our hands." Then one evening
Byron said, "we will each write a ghost story," and the
proposition was agreed to, and Mary Shelley's contribution was
developed till at length "Frankenstein" was written. The story
is at once a remarkable and impressive performance. The
influence of Mrs. Shelley's father is apparent throughout, but
probably the authoress was most influenced by the old German
tales of the supernatural. The theme of a mortal creating, by
the aid of natural science, a being in the shape of man, was
at the time a bold and daring innovation in English
literature. Mrs. Shelley died February 21, 1851.
_I.--Robert Walton's Letter_
August 5, 17--
My Dear Sister.--This letter will reach England by a merchantman now on
its homeward voyage from Archangel; more fortunate than I, who may not
see my native land, perhaps for many years. We have already reached a
very high latitude, and it is the height of summer; but last Monday,
July 31, we were nearly surrounded by ice which closed in the ship on
all sides. Our situation was somewhat dangerous, especially as we were
compassed round by a very thick fog. About two o'clock the mist cleared
away, and we beheld in every direction, vast and irregular plains of
ice. A strange sight suddenly attracted our attention. We perceived a
low carriage, fixed on a sledge and drawn by dogs, pass on towards the
North: a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic
stature, sat in the sledge and guided the dogs. We watched the rapid
progress of the traveller until he was lost among the distant
inequalities of the ice. Before night the ice broke and freed our ship.
In the morning, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck, and found all
the sailors apparently talking to some one in the sea, it was, in fact,
a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in
the night, on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive, but
there was a human being whom the sailors were persuading to enter the
On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English. "Before I come
on board your vessel," said he, "will you have the kindness to inform me
whither you are bound?"
I replied that we were on a voyage of discovery towards the northern
Upon hearing this he consented to come on board. His limbs were nearly
frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated. I never saw a man in so
wretched a condition, and I often feel that his sufferings had deprived
him of understanding.
Once the lieutenant asked why he had come so far upon the ice in so
strange a vehicle. He replied, "To seek one who fled from me." "And did
the man whom you pursued travel in the same fashion?"
"Then I fancy we have seen him; for the day before we picked you up, we
saw some dogs drawing a sledge, with a man in it, across the ice."
From this time a new spirit of life animated the decaying frame of the
stranger. He manifested the greatest eagerness to be upon deck, to watch
for the sledge which had before appeared.
August 17, 17--
Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily perceive, Capt.
Walton, that I have suffered great and unparallelled misfortunes. My
fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait but for one event, and then I shall
repose in peace. Listen to my history, and you will perceive how
irrevocably my destiny is determined."
I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished
of that republic. My father has filled several public situations with
honour and reputation. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied
by the affairs of his country, and it was not until the decline of life
that he became a husband and the father of a family.
When I was about five years old, my mother, whose benevolent disposition
often made her enter the cottages of the poor, brought to our house a
child fairer than pictured cherub, an orphan whom she found in a
peasant's hut; the infant daughter of a nobleman who had died fighting
for Italy. Thus Elizabeth became the inmate of my parents' house. Every
one loved her, and I looked upon Elizabeth as mine, to protect, love,
and cherish. We called each other familiarly by the name cousin, and
were brought up together. No human being could have passed a happier
childhood than myself.
When I had attained the age of seventeen, my parents resolved that I
should become a student at the University of Ingolstadt; I had hitherto
attended the schools, of Geneva.
Before the day of my departure arrived, the first misfortune of my life
occurred--an omen of my future misery. My mother attended Elizabeth in
an attack of scarlet fever. Elizabeth was saved, but my mother sickened
and died. On her deathbed she joined the hands of Elizabeth and
myself:--"My children," she said, "my firmest hopes of future happiness
were placed on the prospect of your union. This expectation will now be
the consolation of your father."
The day of my departure for Ingolstadt, deferred for some weeks by my
mother's death, at length arrived. I reached the town after a long and
fatiguing journey, delivered my letters of introduction, and paid a
visit to some of the principal professors.
M. Krempe, professor of Natural Philosophy, was an uncouth man. He asked
me several questions concerning my progress in different branches of
science, and informed me I must begin my studies entirely anew.
M. Waldman was very unlike his colleague. His voice was the sweetest I
had ever heard. Partly from curiosity, and partly from idleness, I
entered his lecture room, and his panegyric upon modern chemistry I
shall never forget:--"The ancient teachers of this science," said he,
"promised impossibilities, and performed nothing. The modern masters
promise very little, and have, indeed, performed miracles. They have
discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we
breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can
command the thunders of the heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock
the invisible world with its own shadows."
Such were the professor's words, words of fate enounced to destroy me.
As he went on, I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable
enemy. So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein. More,
far more, will I achieve: I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown
powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation. I
closed not my eyes that night; and from this time natural philosophy,
and particularly chemistry, became nearly my sole occupation. My
progress was rapid, and at the end of two years I made some discoveries
in the improvement of chemical instruments which procured me great
esteem at the University.
I became acquainted with the science of anatomy, and often asked myself,
Whence did the principle of life proceed? I observed the natural decay
of the human body, and saw how the fine form of man was degraded and
wasted. I examined and analysed all the minutiae of causation in the
change from life to death and death to life, until from the midst of
this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me. I became dizzy with the
immensity of the prospect, and surprised that among so many men of
genius I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.
Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare
a frame for the reception of it remained a work of inconceivable
difficulty and labour. I collected bones from charnel houses, and the
dissecting room and the slaughter house furnished many of my materials.
Often my nature turned with loathing from my occupation, but the thought
that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter I might in process
of time renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to
corruption, supported my spirits.
In a solitary chamber at the top of the house I kept my workshop of
filthy creation. The summer months passed, but my eyes were insensible
to the charms of nature. Winter, spring, and summer passed away before
my work drew to a close, but now every day showed me how well I had
succeeded. But I had become a wreck, so engrossing was my occupation,
and nervous to a most painful degree. I shunned my fellow-creatures as
if I had been guilty of a crime.
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of
my toil. With an anxiety that amounted to agony, I collected the
instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into
the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. I saw the dull yellow eye of the
creature open; it breathed hard; and a convulsive motion agitated its
How can I delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I
had endeavoured to form? His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of
muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and
flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but his watery eyes seemed
almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were
I had worked hard for nearly two years for the sole purpose of infusing
life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and
health. But now that I had finished, breathless horror and disgust
filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created,
I rushed out of the room. I tried to sleep, but disturbed by the wildest
dreams, I started up. By the dim and yellow light of the moon I beheld
the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtains of the
bed, and his eyes were fixed on me. He might have spoken, but I did not
hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped
and rushed downstairs.
No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. I had gazed on
him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and
joints were rendered capable of motion, no mummy could be so hideous. I
took refuge in the court-yard, and passed the night wretchedly.
For several months I was confined by a nervous fever, and on my recovery
was filled with a violent antipathy even to the name of Natural
A letter from my father telling me that my youngest brother William had
been found murdered, and bidding me return and comfort Elizabeth, made
me decide to hasten home.
It was completely dark when I arrived in the environs of Geneva. The
gates of the town were shut, and I was obliged to pass the night at a
village outside. A storm was raging on the mountains, and I wandered out
to watch the tempest and resolved to visit the spot where my poor
William had been murdered.
Suddenly I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a
clump of trees near me; I could not be mistaken. A flash of lightning
illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me. Its
gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than
belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch to
whom I had given life. What did he there? Could he be the murderer of my
brother? No sooner did that idea cross my imagination than I became
convinced of its truth. The figure passed me quickly, and I lost it in
the gloom. I thought of pursuing, but it would have been in vain, for
another flash discovered him to me hanging among the rocks, and he soon
reached the summit and disappeared.
It was about five in the morning when I entered my father's house. It
was a house of mourning, and from that time I lived in daily fear lest
the monster I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness. I
wished to see him again that I might avenge the death of William.
My wish was soon gratified. I had wandered off alone up the valley of
Chamounix, and was resting on the side of the mountain, when I beheld
the figure of a man advancing towards me, over the crevices in the ice,
with superhuman speed. He approached: his countenance bespoke bitter
anguish--it was the wretch whom I had created.
"Devil," I exclaimed, "do you dare approach me? Begone, vile insect! Or,
rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust!"
"I expected this reception," said the monster. "All men hate the
wretched: how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living
things. You purpose to kill me. Do your duty towards me and I will do
mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my
conditions I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will
glut the maw of death with the blood of your remaining friends."
My rage was without bounds, but he easily eluded me and said:
"Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery?
Remember that I am thy creature. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I
alone am excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. I
have assisted the labours of man, I have saved human beings from
destruction, and I have been stoned and shot at as a recompense. The
feelings of kindness and gentleness have given place to rage. Mankind
spurns and hates me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my
refuge, and the bleak sky is kinder to me than your fellow-beings. Shall
I not hate them who abhor me? Listen to me, Frankenstein. I have
wandered through these mountains consumed by a burning passion which you
alone can gratify. You must create a female for me with whom I can live.
I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as
deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me.
"What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate. It is true, we shall be
monstrous, cut off from all the world: but on that account we shall be
more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will
be harmless, and free from the misery I now feel. If you consent,
neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again: I will go
to the vast wilds of South America. We shall make our bed of dried
leaves; the sun will shine on us as on man, and will ripen our foods. My
evil passion will have fled, for I shall meet with sympathy. My life
will flow quietly away, and in my dying moments I shall not curse my
His words had a strange effect on me. I compassionated him, and
concluded that the justest view both to him and my fellow-creatures
demanded of me that I should comply with his request.
"I consent to your demand," I said, "on your solemn oath to quit Europe
"I swear," he cried, "by the sun and by the fire of love which burns in
my heart that if you grant my prayer, while they exist you shall never
behold me again. Depart to your home, and commence your labours: I shall
watch their progress with unutterable anxiety."
Saying this, he suddenly quitted me, fearful, perhaps, of any change in
_IV.--The Doom of Frankenstein_
I travelled to England with my friend Henry Clerval, and we parted in
Scotland. I had fixed on one of the remotest of the Orkneys as the scene
of my labours.
Three years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had created a
fiend whose barbarity had desolated my heart. I was now about to form
another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant. He had sworn
to quit the neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts, but she
had not. They might even hate each other, and she might quit him. Even
if they were to leave Europe, a race of devils would be propagated upon
the earth, who might make the very existence of man precarious and full
I was alone on a solitary island, when looking up, the monster whom I
dreaded appeared. My mind was made up: I would never create another like
"Begone," I cried, "I break my promise. Never will I create your equal
in deformity and wickedness. Leave me; I am inexorable."
The monster saw my determination in my face, and gnashed his teeth in
anger. "Shall each man," cried he, "find a wife for his bosom, and each
beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and
they were requited by detestation and scorn. Are you to be happy, while
I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? I go, but remember, I
shall be with you on your wedding night."
I started forward, but he quitted the house with precipitation. In a few
moments I saw him in his boat, which shot across the waters with an
The next day I set off to rejoin Clerval, and return home. But I never
saw my friend again. The monster murdered him, and for a time I lay in
prison on suspicion of the crime. On my release one duty remained to me.
It was necessary that I should hasten without delay to Geneva, there to
watch over the lives of those I loved, and to lie in wait for the
Soon after my arrival, my father spoke of my long-contemplated marriage
with Elizabeth. I remembered the fiend's words, "I shall be with you on
your wedding night," and if I had thought what might be the devilish
intention of my adversary I would never have consented. But thinking it
was only my own death I was preparing I agreed with a cheerful
Elizabeth seemed happy, and I was tranquil. In the meantime I took every
precaution, carrying pistols and dagger, lest the fiend should openly
After the ceremony was performed, a large party assembled at my
father's; it was agreed that Elizabeth and I should proceed immediately
to the shores of Lake Como.
That night we stopped at an inn. I reflected how fearful a combat, which
I momentarily expected, would be to my wife, and earnestly entreated her
to retire. She left me, and I walked up and down the passages of the
house inspecting every corner that might afford a retreat to my
Suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room
into which Elizabeth had retired. I rushed in. There, lifeless and
inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale
and distorted features half covered with her hair, was the purest
creature on earth, my love, my wife, so lately living, and so dear.
And at the open window I saw a figure the most hideous and abhorred. A
grin was on the face of the monster as with his fiendish finger he
pointed towards the corpse.
Drawing a pistol I fired; but he eluded me, and running with the
swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.
The report of the pistol brought a crowd into the room. I pointed to the
spot where he had disappeared, and we followed the track with boats.
Nets were cast, but in vain. On my return to Geneva, my father sank
under the tidings I bore, for Elizabeth had been to him more than a
daughter, and in a few days he died in my arms.
Then I decided to tell my story to a criminal judge in the town, and
beseech him to assert his whole authority for the apprehension of the
murderer. This Genevan magistrate endeavoured to soothe me as a nurse
does a child, and treated my tale as the effects of delirium. I broke
from the house angry and disturbed, and soon quitted Geneva, hurried
away by fury. Revenge has kept me alive; I dared not die and leave my
adversary in being.
For many months this has been my task. Guided by a slight clue, I
followed the windings of the Rhone, but vainly. The blue Mediterranean
appeared; and, by a strange chance, I saw the fiend hide himself in a
vessel bound for the Black Sea.
Amidst the wilds of Tartary and Russia, although he still evaded me, I
have ever followed in his track. Sometimes the peasants informed me of
his path; sometimes he himself left some mark to guide me. The snows
descended on my head, and I saw the print of his huge step on the white
My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and it was during
sleep alone that I could taste joy.
As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows thickened and
the cold increased in the degree almost too severe to support. I found
the fiend had pursued his journey across the frost-bound sea in a
direction that led to no land, and exchanging my land sledge for one
fashioned for the Frozen Ocean I followed him.
I cannot guess how many days have passed since then. I was about to sink
under the accumulation of distress when you took me on board. But I had
determined, if you were going southward, still to trust myself to the
mercy of the seas rather than abandon my purpose--for my task is
_V.--Walton's Letter, continued_
A week has passed away while I have listened to the strangest tale that
ever imagination formed.
The only joy that Frankenstein can now know will be when he composes his
shattered spirit to peace and death.