Part 6 out of 10
world would have gloried to cherish and acknowledge. And with her he
had passed his prejudiced youth, and fancied, like an idiot, that he
had found sympathy! Yes, so long as he was a slave, a mechanical,
submissive slave, bowing his mind to all the traditionary bigotry
which she adored, never daring to form an opinion for himself,
worshipping her idol, custom, and labouring by habitual hypocrisy to
perpetuate the delusions of all around her!
In the meantime, while Lord Cadurcis was chewing the cud of these
bitter feelings, we will take the opportunity of explaining the
immediate cause of Lady Annabel's frigid reception of his friendly
advances. All that she had heard of Cadurcis, all the information she
had within these few days so rapidly acquired of his character and
conduct, were indeed not calculated to dispose her to witness the
renewal of their intimacy with feelings of remarkable satisfaction.
But this morning she had read his poem, the poem that all London was
talking of, and she had read it with horror. She looked upon Cadurcis
as a lost man. With her, indeed, since her marriage, an imaginative
mind had become an object of terror; but there were some peculiarities
in the tone of Cadurcis' genius, which magnified to excess her general
apprehension on this head. She traced, in every line, the evidences
of a raging vanity, which she was convinced must prompt its owner
to sacrifice, on all occasions, every feeling of duty to its
gratification. Amid all the fervour of rebellious passions, and the
violence of a wayward mind, a sentiment of profound egotism appeared
to her impressed on every page she perused. Great as might have been
the original errors of Herbert, awful as in her estimation were the
crimes to which they had led him, they might in the first instance be
traced rather to a perverted view of society than of himself. But self
was the idol of Cadurcis; self distorted into a phantom that seemed
to Lady Annabel pregnant not only with terrible crimes, but with the
basest and most humiliating vices. The certain degradation which in
the instance of her husband had been the consequence of a bad system,
would, in her opinion, in the case of Cadurcis, be the result of a
bad nature; and when she called to mind that there had once been a
probability that this individual might have become the husband of her
Venetia, her child whom it had been the sole purpose of her life to
save from the misery of which she herself had been the victim; that
she had even dwelt on the idea with complacency, encouraged its
progress, regretted its abrupt termination, but consoled herself by
the flattering hope that time, with even more favourable auspices,
would mature it into fulfilment; she trembled, and turned pale.
It was to the Bishop that, after dinner, Lady Annabel expressed some
of the feelings which the reappearance of Cadurcis had occasioned her.
'I see nothing but misery for his future,' she exclaimed; 'I tremble
for him when he addresses me. In spite of the glittering surface on
which he now floats, I foresee only a career of violence, degradation,
'He is a problem difficult to solve,' replied Masham; 'but there are
elements not only in his character, but his career, so different from
those of the person of whom we were speaking, that I am not inclined
at once to admit, that the result must necessarily be the same.'
'I see none,' replied Lady Annabel; 'at least none of sufficient
influence to work any material change.'
'What think you of his success?' replied Masham. 'Cadurcis is
evidently proud of it. With all his affected scorn of the world, he
is the slave of society. He may pique the feelings of mankind, but I
doubt whether he will outrage them.'
'He is on such a dizzy eminence,' replied Lady Annabel, 'that I do not
believe he is capable of calculating so finely. He does not believe, I
am sure, in the possibility of resistance. His vanity will tempt him
'Not to persecution,' said Masham. 'Now, my opinion of Cadurcis is,
that his egotism, or selfism, or whatever you may style it, will
ultimately preserve him from any very fatal, from any irrecoverable
excesses. He is of the world, worldly. All his works, all his conduct,
tend only to astonish mankind. He is not prompted by any visionary
ideas of ameliorating his species. The instinct of self-preservation
will serve him as ballast.'
'We shall see,' said Lady Annabel; 'for myself, whatever may be his
end, I feel assured that great and disgraceful vicissitudes are in
store for him.'
'It is strange after what, in comparison with such extraordinary
changes, must be esteemed so brief an interval,' observed Masham, with
a smile, 'to witness such a revolution in his position. I often think
to myself, can this indeed be our little Plantagenet?'
'It is awful!' said Lady Annabel; 'much more than strange. For myself,
when I recall certain indications of his feelings when he was last at
Cadurcis, and think for a moment of the results to which they might
have led, I shiver; I assure you, my dear lord, I tremble from head to
foot. And I encouraged him! I smiled with fondness on his feelings! I
thought I was securing the peaceful happiness of my child! What can we
trust to in this world! It is too dreadful to dwell upon! It must have
been an interposition of Providence that Venetia escaped.'
'Dear little Venetia,' exclaimed the good Bishop; 'for I believe I
shall call her little Venetia to the day of my death. How well she
looks to-night! Her aunt is, I think, very fond of her! See!'
'Yes, it pleases me,' said Lady Annabel; but I do wish my sister was
not such an admirer of Lord Cadurcis' poems. You cannot conceive how
uneasy it makes me. I am quite annoyed that he was asked here to-day.
Why ask him?'
'Oh! there is no harm,' said Masham; 'you must forget the past. By all
accounts, Cadurcis is not a marrying man. Indeed, as I understood,
marriage with him is at present quite out of the question. And as for
Venetia, she rejected him before, and she will, if necessary, reject
him again. He has been a brother to her, and after that he can be no
more. Girls never fall in love with those with whom they are bred up.'
'I hope, I believe there is no occasion for apprehension,' replied
Lady Annabel; 'indeed, it has scarcely entered my head. The very
charms he once admired in Venetia can have no sway over him, as
I should think, now. I should believe him as little capable of
appreciating Venetia now, as he was when last at Cherbury, of
anticipating the change in his own character.'
'You mean opinions, my dear lady, for characters never change. Believe
me, Cadurcis is radically the same as in old days. Circumstances have
only developed his latent predisposition.'
'Not changed, my dear lord! what, that innocent, sweet-tempered,
'Hush! here he comes.'
The Earl and his guests entered the room; a circle was formed round
Lady Annabel; some evening visitors arrived; there was singing. It had
not been the intention of Lord Cadurcis to return to the drawing-room
after his rebuff by Lady Annabel; he had meditated making his peace at
Monteagle House; but when the moment of his projected departure had
arrived, he could not resist the temptation of again seeing Venetia.
He entered the room last, and some moments after his companions. Lady
Annabel, who watched the general entrance, concluded he had gone, and
her attention was now fully engaged. Lord Cadurcis remained at the
end of the room alone, apparently abstracted, and looking far from
amiable; but his eye, in reality, was watching Venetia. Suddenly her
aunt approached her, and invited the lady who was conversing with Miss
Herbert to sing; Lord Cadurcis immediately advanced, and took her
seat. Venetia was surprised that for the first time in her life
with Plantagenet she felt embarrassed. She had met his look when he
approached her, and had welcomed, or, at least, intended to welcome
him with a smile, but she was at a loss for words; she was haunted
with the recollection of her mother's behaviour to him at dinner, and
she looked down on the ground, far from being at ease.
'Venetia!' said Lord Cadurcis.
'We are alone,' he said; 'let me call you Venetia when we are alone.'
She did not, she could not reply; she felt confused; the blood rose to
'How changed is everything!' continued Cadurcis. 'To think the day
should ever arrive when I should have to beg your permission to call
She looked up; she met his glance. It was mournful; nay, his eyes were
suffused with tears. She saw at her side the gentle and melancholy
Plantagenet of her childhood.
'I cannot speak; I am agitated at meeting you,' she said with her
native frankness. 'It is so long since we have been alone; and, as you
say, all is so changed.'
'But are you changed, Venetia?' he said in a voice of emotion; 'for
all other change is nothing.'
'I meet you with pleasure,' she replied; 'I hear of your fame with
pride. You cannot suppose that it is possible I should cease to be
interested in your welfare.'
'Your mother does not meet me with pleasure; she hears of nothing
that has occurred to me with pride; your mother has ceased to take an
interest in my welfare; and why should you be unchanged?'
'You mistake my mother.'
'No, no,' replied Cadurcis, shaking his head, 'I have read her inmost
soul to-day. Your mother hates me; me, whom she once styled her son.
She was a mother once to me, and you were my sister. If I have lost
her heart, why have I not lost yours?'
'My heart, if you care for it, is unchanged,' said Venetia.
'O Venetia, whatever you may think, I never wanted the solace of a
sister's love more than I do at this moment.'
'I pledged my affection to you when we were children,' replied
Venetia; 'you have done nothing to forfeit it, and it is yours still.'
'When we were children,' said Cadurcis, musingly; 'when we were
innocent; when we were happy. You, at least, are innocent still; are
you happy, Venetia?'
'Life has brought sorrows even to me, Plantagenet.'
The blood deserted his heart when she called him Plantagenet; he
breathed with difficulty.
'When I last returned to Cherbury,' he said, 'you told me you were
changed, Venetia; you revealed to me on another occasion the secret
cause of your affliction. I was a boy then, a foolish ignorant boy.
Instead of sympathising with your heartfelt anxiety, my silly vanity
was offended by feelings I should have shared, and soothed, and
honoured. Ah, Venetia! well had it been for one of us that I had
conducted myself more kindly, more wisely.'
'Nay, Plantagenet, believe me, I remember that interview only to
regret it. The recollection of it has always occasioned me great
grief. We were both to blame; but we were both children then. We must
pardon each other's faults.'
'You will hear, that is, if you care to listen, Venetia, much of my
conduct and opinions,' continued Lord Cadurcis, 'that may induce you
to believe me headstrong and capricious. Perhaps I am less of both in
all things than the world imagines. But of this be certain, that my
feelings towards you have never changed, whatever you may permit them
to be; and if some of my boyish judgments have, as was but natural,
undergone some transformation, be you, my sweet friend, in some degree
consoled for the inconsistency, since I have at length learned duly to
appreciate one of whom we then alike knew little, but whom a natural
inspiration taught you, at least, justly to appreciate: I need not say
I mean the illustrious father of your being.'
Venetia could not restrain her tears; she endeavoured to conceal her
agitated countenance behind the fan with which she was fortunately
'To me a forbidden subject,' said Venetia, 'at least with them I could
alone converse upon it, but one that my mind never deserts.'
'O Venetia!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis with a sigh, 'would we were both
'A wild thought,' she murmured, 'and one I must not dwell upon.'
'We shall meet, I hope,' said Lord Cadurcis; 'we must meet, meet
often. I called upon your mother to-day, fruitlessly. You must attempt
to conciliate her. Why should we be parted? We, at least, are friends,
and more than friends. I cannot exist unless we meet, and meet with
the frankness of old days.'
'I think you mistake mamma; I think you may, indeed. Remember how
lately she has met you, and after how long an interval! A little time,
and she will resume her former feelings, and believe that you have
never forfeited yours. Besides, we have friends, mutual friends. My
aunt admires you, and here I naturally must be a great deal. And the
Bishop, he still loves you; that I am sure he does: and your cousin,
mamma likes your cousin. I am sure if you can manage only to be
patient, if you will only attempt to conciliate a little, all will be
as before. Remember, too, how changed your position is,' Venetia added
with a smile; 'you allow me to forget you are a great man, but mamma
is naturally restrained by all this wonderful revolution. When she
finds that you really are the Lord Cadurcis whom she knew such a very
little boy, the Lord Cadurcis who, without her aid, would never have
been able even to write his fine poems, oh! she must love you again.
How can she help it?'
Cadurcis smiled. 'We shall see,' he said. 'In the meantime do not you
desert me, Venetia.'
'That is impossible,' she replied; 'the happiest of my days have been
passed with you. You remember the inscription on the jewel? I shall
keep to my vows.'
'That was a very good inscription so far as it went,' said Cadurcis;
and then, as if a little alarmed at his temerity, he changed the
'Do you know,' said Venetia, after a pause, 'I am treating you all
this time as a poet, merely in deference to public opinion. Not a line
have I been permitted to read; but I am resolved to rebel, and you
must arrange it all.'
'Ah!' said the enraptured Cadurcis; 'this is fame!'
At this moment the Countess approached them, and told Venetia that
her mother wished to speak to her. Lady Annabel had discovered the
tete-a-tete, and resolved instantly to terminate it. Lord Cadurcis,
however, who was quick as lightning, read all that was necessary in
Venetia's look. Instead of instantly retiring, he remained some little
time longer, talked to the Countess, who was perfectly enchanted with
him, even sauntered up to the singers, and complimented them, and did
not make his bow until he had convinced at least the mistress of the
mansion, if not her sister-in-law, that it was not Venetia Herbert who
was his principal attraction in this agreeable society.
The moment he had quitted Venetia, Lord Cadurcis returned home. He
could not endure the usual routine of gaiety after her society; and
his coachman, often waiting until five o'clock in the morning at
Monteagle House, could scarcely assure himself of his good fortune
in this exception to his accustomed trial of patience. The vis-a-vis
stopped, and Lord Cadurcis bounded out with a light step and a lighter
heart. His table was covered with letters. The first one that caught
his eye was a missive from Lady Monteagle. Cadurcis seized it like a
wild animal darting on its prey, tore it in half without opening it,
and, grasping the poker, crammed it with great energy into the fire.
This exploit being achieved, Cadurcis began walking up and down the
room; and indeed he paced it for nearly a couple of hours in a deep
reverie, and evidently under a considerable degree of excitement, for
his gestures were violent, and his voice often audible. At length,
about an hour after midnight, he rang for his valet, tore off his
cravat, and hurled it to one corner of the apartment, called for his
robe de chambre, soda water, and more lights, seated himself, and
began pouring forth, faster almost than his pen could trace the words,
the poem that he had been meditating ever since he had quitted the
roof where he had met Venetia. She had expressed a wish to read his
poems; he had resolved instantly to compose one for her solitary
perusal Thus he relieved his heart:
Within a cloistered pile, whose Gothic towers
Rose by the margin of a sedgy lake,
Embosomed in a valley of green bowers,
And girt by many a grove and ferny brake
Loved by the antlered deer, a tender youth
Whom Time to childhood's gentle sway of love
Still spared; yet innocent as is the dove,
Nor mounded yet by Care's relentless tooth;
Stood musing, of that fair antique domain
The orphan lord! And yet, no childish thought
With wayward purpose holds its transient reign
In his young mind, with deeper feelings fraught;
Then mystery all to him, and yet a dream,
That Time has touched with its revealing beam.
There came a maiden to that lonely boy,
And like to him as is the morn to night;
Her sunny face a very type of joy,
And with her soul's unclouded lustre bright.
Still scantier summers had her brow illumed
Than that on which she threw a witching smile,
Unconscious of the spell that could beguile
His being of the burthen it was doomed
By his ancestral blood to bear: a spirit,
Rife with desponding thoughts and fancies drear,
A moody soul that men sometimes inherit,
And worse than all the woes the world may bear.
But when he met that maiden's dazzling eye,
He bade each gloomy image baffled fly.
Amid the shady woods and sunny lawns
The maiden and the youth now wander, gay
As the bright birds, and happy as the fawns,
Their sportive rivals, that around them play;
Their light hands linked in love, the golden hours
Unconscious fly, while thus they graceful roam,
And careless ever till the voice of home
Recalled them from their sunshine find their flowers;
For then they parted: to his lonely pile
The orphan-chief, for though his woe to lull,
The maiden called him brother, her fond smile
Gladdened another hearth, while his was dull
Yet as they parted, she reproved his sadness,
And for his sake she gaily whispered gladness.
She was the daughter of a noble race,
That beauteous girl, and yet she owed her name
To one who needs no herald's skill to trace
His blazoned lineage, for his lofty fame
Lives in the mouth of men, and distant climes
Re-echo his wide glory; where the brave
Are honoured, where 'tis noble deemed to save
A prostrate nation, and for future times
Work with a high devotion, that no taunt,
Or ribald lie, or zealot's eager curse,
Or the short-sighted world's neglect can daunt,
That name is worshipped! His immortal verse
Blends with his god-like deeds, a double spell
To bind the coming age he loved too well!
For, from his ancient home, a scatterling,
They drove him forth, unconscious of their prize,
And branded as a vile unhallowed thing,
The man who struggled only to be wise.
And even his hearth rebelled, the duteous wife,
Whose bosom well might soothe in that dark hour,
Swelled with her gentle force the world's harsh power,
And aimed her dart at his devoted life.
That struck; the rest his mighty soul might scorn,
But when his household gods averted stood,
'Twas the last pang that cannot well be borne
When tortured e'en to torpor: his heart's blood
Flowed to the unseen blow: then forth he went,
And gloried in his ruthless banishment.
A new-born pledge of love within his home,
His alien home, the exiled father left;
And when, like Cain, he wandered forth to roam,
A Cain without his solace, all bereft,
Stole down his pallid cheek the scalding tear,
To think a stranger to his tender love
His child must grow, untroubled where might rove
His restless life, or taught perchance to fear
Her father's name, and bred in sullen hate,
Shrink from his image. Thus the gentle maid,
Who with her smiles had soothed an orphan's fate,
Had felt an orphan's pang; yet undismayed,
Though taught to deem her sire the child of shame,
She clung with instinct to that reverent name!
Time flew; the boy became a man; no more
His shadow falls upon his cloistered hall,
But to a stirring world he learn'd to pour
The passion of his being, skilled to call
From the deep caverns of his musing thought
Shadows to which they bowed, and on their mind
To stamp the image of his own; the wind,
Though all unseen, with force or odour fraught,
Can sway mankind, and thus a poet's voice,
Now touched with sweetness, now inflamed with rage,
Though breath, can make us grieve and then rejoice:
Such is the spell of his creative page,
That blends with all our moods; and thoughts can yield
That all have felt, and yet till then were sealed.
The lute is sounding in a chamber bright
With a high festival; on every side,
Soft in the gleamy blaze of mellowed light,
Fair women smile, and dancers graceful glide;
And words still sweeter than a serenade
Are breathed with guarded voice and speaking eyes,
By joyous hearts in spite of all their sighs;
But byegone fantasies that ne'er can fade
Retain the pensive spirit of the youth;
Reclined against a column he surveys
His laughing compeers with a glance, in sooth,
Careless of all their mirth: for other days
Enchain him with their vision, the bright hours
Passed with the maiden in their sunny bowers.
Why turns his brow so pale, why starts to life
That languid eye? What form before unseen,
With all the spells of hallowed memory rife,
Now rises on his vision? As the Queen
Of Beauty from her bed of sparkling foam
Sprang to the azure light, and felt the air,
Soft as her cheek, the wavy dancers bear
To his rapt sight a mien that calls his home,
His cloistered home, before him, with his dreams
Prophetic strangely blending. The bright muse
Of his dark childhood still divinely beams
Upon his being; glowing with the hues
That painters love, when raptured pencils soar
To trace a form that nations may adore!
One word alone, within her thrilling ear,
Breathed with hushed voice the brother of her heart,
And that for aye is hidden. With a tear
Smiling she strove to conquer, see her start,
The bright blood rising to her quivering cheek,
And meet the glance she hastened once to greet,
When not a thought had he, save in her sweet
And solacing society; to seek
Her smiles his only life! Ah! happy prime
Of cloudless purity, no stormy fame
His unknown sprite then stirred, a golden time
Worth all the restless splendour of a name;
And one soft accent from those gentle lips
Might all the plaudits of a world eclipse.
My tale is done; and if some deem it strange
My fancy thus should droop, deign then to learn
My tale is truth: imagination's range
Its bounds exact may touch not: to discern
Far stranger things than poets ever feign,
In life's perplexing annals, is the fate
Of those who act, and musing, penetrate
The mystery of Fortune: to whose reign
The haughtiest brow must bend; 'twas passing strange
The youth of these fond children; strange the flush
Of his high fortunes and his spirit's change;
Strange was the maiden's tear, the maiden's blush;
Strange were his musing thoughts and trembling heart,
'Tis strange they met, and stranger if they part!
When Lady Monteagle discovered, which she did a very few hours after
the mortifying event, where Lord Cadurcis had dined the day on which
he had promised to be her guest, she was very indignant, but her
vanity was more offended than her self-complacency. She was annoyed
that Cadurcis should have compromised his exalted reputation by so
publicly dangling in the train of the new beauty: still more that he
should have signified in so marked a manner the impression which the
fair stranger had made upon him, by instantly accepting an invitation
to a house so totally unconnected with his circle, and where, had it
not been to meet this Miss Herbert, it would of course never have
entered his head to be a visitor. But, on the whole, Lady Monteagle
was rather irritated than jealous; and far from suspecting that there
was the slightest chance of her losing her influence, such as it might
be, over Lord Cadurcis, all that she felt was, that less lustre must
redound to her from its possession and exercise, if it were obvious
to the world that his attentions could be so easily attracted and
When Lord Cadurcis, therefore, having dispatched his poem to Venetia,
paid his usual visit on the next day to Monteagle House, he was
received rather with sneers than reproaches, as Lady Monteagle, with
no superficial knowledge of society or his lordship's character,
was clearly of opinion that this new fancy of her admirer was to be
treated rather with ridicule than indignation; and, in short, as she
had discovered that Cadurcis was far from being insensible to mockery,
that it was clearly a fit occasion, to use a phrase then very much in
vogue, for _quizzing_.
'How d'ye do?' said her ladyship, with an arch smile, 'I really could
not expect to see you!'
Cadurcis looked a little confused; he detested scenes, and now he
'You seem quite distrait,' continued Lady Monteagle, after a moment's
pause, which his lordship ought to have broken. 'But no wonder, if the
world be right.'
'The world cannot be wrong,' said Cadurcis sarcastically.
'Had you a pleasant party yesterday?'
'Lady ---- must have been quite charmed to have you at last,' said Lady
Monteagle. 'I suppose she exhibited you to all her friends, as if you
were one of the savages that went to Court the other day.'
'She was courteous.'
'Oh! I can fancy her flutter! For my part, if there be one character
in the world more odious than another, I think it is a fussy woman.
Lady ----, with Lord Cadurcis dining with her, and the new beauty for a
niece, must have been in a most delectable state of bustle.'
'I thought she was rather quiet,' said her companion with provoking
indifference. 'She seemed to me an agreeable person.'
'I suppose you mean Miss Herbert?' said Lady Monteagle.
'Oh! these are moderate expressions to use in reference to a person
like Miss Herbert.'
'You know what they said of you two at Ranelagh?' said her ladyship.
'No,' said Lord Cadurcis, somewhat changing colour, and speaking
through his teeth; 'something devilish pleasant, I dare say.'
'They call you Sedition and Treason,' said Lady Monteagle.
'Then we are well suited,' said Lord Cadurcis.
'She certainly is a beautiful creature,' said her ladyship.
'I think so,' said Lord Cadurcis.
'Rather too tall, I think.'
'Beautiful complexion certainly; wants delicacy, I think.'
'Fine eyes! Grey, I believe. Cannot say I admire grey eyes. Certain
sign of bad temper, I believe, grey eyes?'
'I did not observe her hand. I dare say a little coarse. Fair people
who are tall generally fail in the hand and arm. What sort of a hand
and arm has she?'
'I did not observe anything coarse about Miss Herbert.'
'Ah! you admire her. And you have cause. No one can deny she is a fine
girl, and every one must regret, that with her decidedly provincial
air and want of style altogether, which might naturally be expected,
considering the rustic way I understand she has been brought up (an
old house in the country, with a methodistical mother), that she
should have fallen into such hands as her aunt. Lady ---- is enough to
spoil any girl's fortune in London.'
'I thought that the ---- were people of high consideration,' said Lord
'Consideration!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle. 'If you mean that they are
people of rank, and good blood, and good property, they are certainly
people of consideration; but they are Goths, Vandals, Huns, Calmucks,
Canadian savages! They have no fashion, no style, no ton, no influence
in the world. It is impossible that a greater misfortune could have
befallen your beauty than having such an aunt. Why, no man who has the
slightest regard for his reputation would be seen in her company. She
is a regular quiz, and you cannot imagine how everybody was laughing
at you the other night.'
'I am very much obliged to them,' said Lord Cadurcis.
'And, upon my honour,' continued Lady Monteagle, 'speaking merely as
your friend, and not being the least jealous (Cadurcis do not suppose
that), not a twinge has crossed my mind on that score; but still I
must tell you that it was most ridiculous for a man like you, to
whom everybody looks up, and from whom the slightest attention is
an honour, to go and fasten yourself the whole night upon a rustic
simpleton, something between a wax doll and a dairymaid, whom every
fool in London was staring at; the very reason why you should not have
appeared to have been even aware of her existence.'
'We have all our moments of weakness, Gertrude,' said Lord Cadurcis,
charmed that the lady was so thoroughly unaware and unsuspicious of
his long and intimate connection with the Herberts. 'I suppose it was
my cursed vanity. I saw, as you say, every fool staring at her, and
so I determined to show that in an instant I could engross her
'Of course, I know it was only that; but you should not have gone
and dined there, Cadurcis,' added the lady, very seriously, 'That
compromised you; but, by cutting them in future in the most marked
manner, you may get over it.'
'You really think I may?' inquired Lord Cadurcis, with some anxiety.
'Oh! I have no doubt of it,' said Lady Monteagle.
'What it is to have a friend like you, Gertrude,' said Cadurcis, 'a
friend who is neither a Goth, nor a Vandal, nor a Hun, nor a Calmuck,
nor a Canadian savage; but a woman of fashion, style, ton, influence
in the world! It is impossible that a greater piece of good fortune
could have befallen me than having you for a friend.'
'Ah, mechant! you may mock,' said the lady, triumphantly, for she was
quite satisfied with the turn the conversation had taken; 'but I am
glad for your sake that you take such a sensible view of the case.'
Notwithstanding, however, this sensible view of the case, after
lounging an hour at Monteagle House, Lord Cadurcis' carriage stopped
at the door of Venetia's Gothic aunt. He was not so fortunate as
to meet his heroine; but, nevertheless, he did not esteem his time
entirely thrown away, and consoled himself for the disappointment
by confirming the favourable impression he had already made in this
establishment, and cultivating an intimacy which he was assured must
contribute many opportunities of finding himself in the society
of Venetia. From this day, indeed, he was a frequent guest at her
uncle's, and generally contrived also to meet her several times in
the week at some great assembly; but here, both from the occasional
presence of Lady Monteagle, although party spirit deterred her from
attending many circles where Cadurcis was now an habitual visitant,
and from the crowd of admirers who surrounded the Herberts, he rarely
found an opportunity for any private conversation with Venetia.
His friend the Bishop also, notwithstanding the prejudices of Lady
Annabel, received him always with cordiality, and he met the Herberts
more than once at his mansion. At the opera and in the park also he
hovered about them, in spite of the sarcasms or reproaches of Lady
Monteagle; for the reader is not to suppose that that lady continued
to take the same self-complacent view of Lord Cadurcis' acquaintance
with the Herberts which she originally adopted, and at first flattered
herself was the just one. His admiration of Miss Herbert had become
the topic of general conversation; it could no longer be concealed or
disguised. But Lady Monteagle was convinced that Cadurcis was not a
marrying man, and persuaded herself that this was a fancy which must
evaporate. Moreover, Monteagle House still continued his spot of most
constant resort; for his opportunities of being with Venetia were,
with all his exertions, limited, and he had no other resource which
pleased him so much as the conversation and circle of the bright
goddess of his party. After some fiery scenes therefore with the
divinity, which only led to his prolonged absence, for the profound
and fervent genius of Cadurcis revolted from the base sentiment and
mock emotions of society, the lady reconciled herself to her lot,
still believing herself the most envied woman in London, and often
ashamed of being jealous of a country girl.
The general result of the fortnight which elapsed since Cadurcis
renewed his acquaintance with his Cherbury friends was, that he had
become convinced of his inability of propitiating Lady Annabel, was
devotedly attached to Venetia, though he had seldom an opportunity
of intimating feelings, which the cordial manner in which she ever
conducted herself to him gave him no reason to conclude desperate; at
the same time that he had contrived that a day should seldom elapse,
which did not under some circumstances, however unfavourable, bring
them together, while her intimate friends and the circles in which she
passed most of her life always witnessed his presence with favour.
We must, however, endeavour to be more intimately acquainted with
the heart and mind of Venetia in her present situation, so strongly
contrasting with the serene simplicity of her former life, than the
limited and constrained opportunities of conversing with the companion
of his childhood enjoyed by Lord Cadurcis could possibly enable him to
become. Let us recur to her on the night when she returned home, after
having met with Plantagenet at her uncle's, and having pursued a
conversation with him, so unexpected, so strange, and so affecting!
She had been silent in the carriage, and retired to her room
immediately. She retired to ponder. The voice of Cadurcis lingered in
her ear; his tearful eye still caught her vision. She leant her head
upon her hand, and sighed! Why did she sigh? What at this instant was
her uppermost thought? Her mother's dislike of Cadurcis. 'Your mother
hates me.' These had been his words; these were the words she repeated
to herself, and on whose fearful sounds she dwelt. 'Your mother hates
me.' If by some means she had learnt a month ago at Weymouth, that her
mother hated Cadurcis, that his general conduct had been such as to
excite Lady Annabel's odium, Venetia might have for a moment
been shocked that her old companion in whom she had once been so
interested, had by his irregular behaviour incurred the dislike of her
mother, by whom he had once been so loved. But it would have been a
transient emotion. She might have mused over past feelings and past
hopes in a solitary ramble on the seashore; she might even have shed
a tear over the misfortunes or infelicity of one who had once been
to her a brother; but, perhaps, nay probably, on the morrow the
remembrance of Plantagenet would scarcely have occurred to her.
Long years had elapsed since their ancient fondness; a considerable
interval since even his name had met her ear. She had heard nothing
of him that could for a moment arrest her notice or command her
But now the irresistible impression that her mother disliked this very
individual filled, her with intolerable grief. What occasioned this
change in her feelings, this extraordinary difference in her emotions?
There was, apparently, but one cause. She had met Cadurcis. Could then
a glance, could even the tender intonations of that unrivalled voice,
and the dark passion of that speaking eye, work in an instant such
marvels? Could they revive the past so vividly, that Plantagenet in
a moment resumed his ancient place in her affections? No, it was not
that: it was less the tenderness of the past that made Venetia mourn
her mother's sternness to Cadurcis, than the feelings of the future.
For now she felt that her mother's heart was not more changed towards
this personage than was her own.
It seemed to Venetia that even before they met, from the very moment
that his name had so strangely caught her eye in the volume on the
first evening she had visited her relations, that her spirit suddenly
turned to him. She had never heard that name mentioned since without
a fluttering of the heart which she could not repress, and an emotion
she could ill conceal. She loved to hear others talk of him, and yet
scarcely dared speak of him herself. She recalled her emotion
at unexpectedly seeing his portrait when with her aunt, and her
mortification when her mother deprived her of the poem which she
sighed to read. Day after day something seemed to have occurred to fix
her brooding thoughts with fonder earnestness on his image. At length
they met. Her emotion when she first recognised him at Ranelagh and
felt him approaching her, was one of those tumults of the heart that
form almost a crisis in our sensations. With what difficulty had
she maintained herself! Doubtful whether he would even formally
acknowledge her presence, her vision as if by fascination had
nevertheless met his, and grew dizzy as he passed. In the interval
that had elapsed between his first passing and then joining her, what
a chaos was her mind! What a wild blending of all the scenes and
incidents of her life! What random answers had she made to those with
whom she had been before conversing with ease and animation! And then,
when she unexpectedly found Cadurcis at her side, and listened to the
sound of that familiar voice, familiar and yet changed, expressing
so much tenderness in its tones, and in its words such deference and
delicate respect, existence felt to her that moment affluent with a
blissful excitement of which she had never dreamed!
Her life was a reverie until they met again, in which she only mused
over his fame, and the strange relations of their careers. She had
watched the conduct of her mother to him at dinner with poignant
sorrow; she scarcely believed that she should have an opportunity
of expressing to him her sympathy. And then what had followed?
A conversation, every word of which had touched her heart; a
conversation that would have entirely controlled her feelings even if
he had not already subjected them. The tone in which he so suddenly
had pronounced 'Venetia,' was the sweetest music to which she had ever
listened. His allusion to her father had drawn tears, which could not
be restrained even in a crowded saloon. Now she wept plenteously.
It was so generous, so noble, so kind, so affectionate! Dear, dear
Cadurcis, is it wonderful that you should be loved?
Then falling into a reverie of sweet and unbroken stillness, with her
eyes fixed in abstraction on the fire, Venetia reviewed her life from
the moment she had known Plantagenet. Not an incident that had ever
occurred to them that did not rise obedient to her magical bidding.
She loved to dwell upon the time when she was the consolation of his
sorrows, and when Cherbury was to him a pleasant refuge! Oh! she felt
sure her mother must remember those fond days, and love him as she
once did! She pictured to herself the little Plantagenet of her
childhood, so serious and so pensive when alone or with others, yet
with her at times so gay and wild, and sarcastic; forebodings all of
that deep and brilliant spirit, which had since stirred up the heart
of a great nation, and dazzled the fancy of an admiring world. The
change too in their mutual lots was also, to a degree, not free from
that sympathy that had ever bound them together. A train of strange
accidents had brought Venetia from her spell-bound seclusion, placed
her suddenly in the most brilliant circle of civilisation, and classed
her among not the least admired of its favoured members. And whom had
she come to meet? Whom did she find in this new and splendid life the
most courted and considered of its community, crowned as it were with
garlands, and perfumed with the incense of a thousand altars? Her own
Plantagenet. It was passing strange.
The morrow brought the verses from Cadurcis. They greatly affected
her. The picture of their childhood, and of the singular sympathy of
their mutual situations, and the description of her father, called
forth her tears; she murmured, however, at the allusion to her other
parent. It was not just, it could not be true. These verses were not,
of course, shown to Lady Annabel. Would they have been shown, even if
they had not contained the allusion? The question is not perplexing.
Venetia had her secret, and a far deeper one than the mere reception
of a poem; all confidence between her and her mother had expired. Love
had stept in, and, before his magic touch, the discipline of a life
expired in an instant.
From all this an idea may be formed of the mood in which, during the
fortnight before alluded to, Venetia was in the habit of meeting Lord
Cadurcis. During this period not the slightest conversation respecting
him had occurred between her mother and herself. Lady Annabel never
mentioned him, and her brow clouded when his name, as was often the
case, was introduced. At the end of this fortnight, it happened that
her aunt and mother were out together in the carriage, and had left
her in the course of the morning at her uncle's house. During this
interval, Lord Cadurcis called, and having ascertained, through a
garrulous servant, that though his mistress was out, Miss Herbert was
in the drawing-room, he immediately took the opportunity of being
introduced. Venetia was not a little surprised at his appearance, and,
conscious of her mother's feelings upon the subject, for a moment
a little agitated, yet, it must be confessed, as much pleased. She
seized this occasion of speaking to him about his verses, for hitherto
she had only been able to acknowledge the receipt of them by a
word. While she expressed without affectation the emotions they had
occasioned her, she complained of his injustice to her mother: this
was the cause of an interesting conversation of which her father
was the subject, and for which she had long sighed. With what deep,
unbroken attention she listened to her companion's enthusiastic
delineation of his character and career! What multiplied questions did
she not ask him, and how eagerly, how amply, how affectionately he
satisfied her just and natural curiosity! Hours flew away while they
indulged in this rare communion.
'Oh, that I could see him!' sighed Venetia.
'You will,' replied Plantagenet; 'your destiny requires it. You will
see him as surely as you beheld that portrait that it was the labour
of a life to prevent you beholding.'
Venetia shook her head; 'And yet,' she added musingly, 'my mother
'Her life proves it,' said Cadurcis bitterly.
'I think it does,' replied Venetia, sincerely.
'I pretend not to understand her heart,' he answered; 'it is an enigma
that I cannot solve. I ought not to believe that she is without one;
but, at any rate, her pride is deeper than her love.'
'They were ill suited,' said Venetia, mournfully; 'and yet it is one
of my dreams that they may yet meet.'
'Ah, Venetia!' he exclaimed, in a voice of great softness, 'they had
not known each other from their childhood, like us. They met, and they
parted, alike in haste.'
Venetia made no reply; her eyes were fixed in abstraction on a
handscreen, which she was unconscious that she held.
'Tell me,' said Cadurcis, drawing his chair close to hers; 'tell me,
At this moment a thundering knock at the door announced the return of
the Countess and her sister-in-law. Cadurcis rose from his seat, but
his chair, which still remained close to that on which Venetia was
sitting, did not escape the quick glance of her mortified mother. The
Countess welcomed Cadurcis with extreme cordiality; Lady Annabel only
returned his very courteous bow.
'Stop and dine with us, my dear lord,' said the Countess. 'We are only
ourselves, and Lady Annabel and Venetia.'
'I thank you, Clara,' said Lady Annabel, 'but we cannot stop to-day.'
'Oh!' exclaimed her sister. 'It will be such a disappointment to
Philip. Indeed you must stay,' she added, in a coaxing tone; 'we shall
be such an agreeable little party, with Lord Cadurcis.'
'I cannot indeed, my dear Clara,' replied Lady Annabel; 'not to-day,
indeed not to-day. Come Venetia!'
Lady Annabel was particularly kind to Venetia on their return to their
hotel, otherwise her daughter might have fancied that she had offended
her, for she was silent. Venetia did not doubt that the presence of
Lord Cadurcis was the reason that her mother would not remain and
dine at her uncle's. This conviction grieved Venetia, but she did not
repine; she indulged the fond hope that time would remove the strong
prejudice which Lady Annabel now so singularly entertained against one
in whose welfare she was originally so deeply interested. During their
simple and short repast Venetia was occupied in a reverie, in
which, it must be owned, Cadurcis greatly figured, and answered the
occasional though kind remarks of her mother with an absent air.
After dinner, Lady Annabel drew her chair towards the fire, for,
although May, the weather was chill, and said, 'A quiet evening at
home, Venetia, will be a relief after all this gaiety.' Venetia
assented to her mother's observation, and nearly a quarter of an hour
elapsed without another word being spoken. Venetia had taken up a
book, and Lady Annabel was apparently lost in her reflections. At
length she said, somewhat abruptly, 'It is more than three years, I
think, since Lord Cadurcis left Cherbury?'
'Yes; it is more than three years,' replied Venetia.
'He quitted us suddenly.'
'Very suddenly,' agreed Venetia.
'I never asked you whether you knew the cause, Venetia,' continued her
mother, 'but I always concluded that you did. I suppose I was not in
This was not a very agreeable inquiry. Venetia did not reply to
it with her previous readiness and indifference. That indeed was
impossible; but, with her accustomed frankness, after a moment's
hesitation, she answered, 'Lord Cadurcis never specifically stated the
cause to me, mamma; indeed I was myself surprised at his departure,
but some conversation had occurred between us on the very morning he
quitted Cadurcis, which, on reflection, I could not doubt occasioned
'Lord Cadurcis preferred his suit to you, Venetia, and you rejected
him?' said Lady Annabel.
'It is as you believe,' replied Venetia, not a little agitated.
'You did wisely, my child, and I was weak ever to have regretted your
'Why should you think so, dearest mamma?'
'Whatever may have been the cause that impelled your conduct then,'
said Lady Annabel, 'I shall ever esteem your decision as a signal
interposition of Providence in your favour. Except his extreme youth,
there was apparently no reason which should not have induced you to
adopt a different decision. I tremble when I think what might have
been the consequences.'
'Tremble, dearest mother?'
'Tremble, Venetia. My only thought in this life is the happiness of my
child. It was in peril.
'Nay, I trust not that, mamma: you are prejudiced against Plantagenet.
It makes me very unhappy, and him also.'
'He is again your suitor?' said Lady Annabel, with a scrutinising
'Indeed he is not.'
'He will be,' said Lady Annabel. 'Prepare yourself. Tell me, then, are
your feelings the same towards him as when he last quitted us?'
'Feelings, mamma!' said Venetia, echoing her mother's words; for
indeed the question was one very difficult to answer; 'I ever loved
Plantagenet; I love him still.'
'But do you love him now as then? Then you looked upon him as a
brother. He has no soul now for sisterly affections. I beseech you
tell me, my child, me, your mother, your friend, your best, your only
friend, tell me, have you for a moment repented that you ever refused
to extend to him any other affection?'
'I have not thought of the subject, mamma; I have not wished to think
of the subject; I have had no occasion to think of it. Lord Cadurcis
is not my suitor now.'
'Venetia!' said Lady Annabel, 'I cannot doubt you love me.'
'Dearest mother!' exclaimed Venetia, in a tone of mingled fondness and
reproach, and she rose from her seat and embraced Lady Annabel.
'My happiness is an object to you, Venetia?' continued Lady Annabel.
'Mother, mother,' said Venetia, in a deprecatory tone. 'Do not ask
such cruel questions? Whom should I love but you, the best, the
dearest mother that ever existed? And what object can I have in life
that for a moment can be placed in competition with your happiness?'
'Then, Venetia, I tell you,' said Lady Annabel, in a solemn yet
excited voice, 'that that happiness is gone for ever, nay, my very
life will be the forfeit, if I ever live to see you the bride of Lord
'I have no thought of being the bride of any one,' said Venetia. 'I am
happy with you. I wish never to leave you.'
'My child, the fulfilment of such a wish is not in the nature of
things,' replied Lady Annabel. 'The day will come when we must part;
I am prepared for the event; nay, I look forward to it not only with
resignation, but delight, when I think it may increase your happiness;
but were that step to destroy it, oh! then, then I could live no more.
I can endure my own sorrows, I can struggle with my own bitter lot,
I have some sources of consolation which enable me to endure my own
misery without repining; but yours, yours, Venetia, I could not bear.
No! if once I were to behold you lingering in life as your mother,
with blighted hopes and with a heart broken, if hearts can break, I
should not survive the spectacle; I know myself, Venetia, I could not
'But why anticipate such misery? Why indulge in such gloomy
forebodings? Am I not happy now? Do you not love me?'
Venetia had drawn her chair close to that of her mother; she sat by
her side and held her hand.
'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, after a pause of some minutes, and in a
low voice, 'I must speak to you on a subject on which we have never
conversed. I must speak to you;' and here Lady Annabel's voice dropped
lower and lower, but still its tones were distinct, although
she expressed herself with evident effort: 'I must speak to you
Venetia uttered a faint cry, she clenched her mother's hand with a
convulsive grasp, and sank upon her bosom. She struggled to maintain
herself, but the first sound of that name from her mother's lips, and
all the long-suppressed emotions that it conjured up, overpowered her.
The blood seemed to desert her heart; still she did not faint; she
clung to Lady Annabel, pallid and shivering.
Her mother tenderly embraced her, she whispered to her words of great
affection, she attempted to comfort and console her. Venetia murmured,
'This is very foolish of me, mother; but speak, oh! speak of what I
have so long desired to hear.'
'Not now, Venetia.'
'Now, mother! yes, now! I am quite composed. I could not bear the
postponement of what you were about to say. I could not sleep, dear
mother, if you did not speak to me. It was only for a moment I was
overcome. See! I am quite composed.' And indeed she spoke in a calm
and steady voice, but her pale and suffering countenance expressed the
painful struggle which it cost her to command herself.
'Venetia,' said Lady Annabel, 'it has been one of the objects of my
life, that you should not share my sorrows.'
Venetia pressed her mother's hand, but made no other reply.
'I concealed from you for years,' continued Lady Annabel, 'a
circumstance in which, indeed, you were deeply interested, but the
knowledge of which could only bring you unhappiness. Yet it was
destined that my solicitude should eventually be baffled. I know that
it is not from my lips that you learn for the first time that you have
a father, a father living.'
'Mother, let me tell you all!' said Venetia, eagerly.
'I know all,' said Lady Annabel.
'But, mother, there is something that you do not know; and now I would
'There is nothing that you can confess with which I am not acquainted,
Venetia; and I feel assured, I have ever felt assured, that your only
reason for concealment was a desire to save me pain.'
'That, indeed, has ever been my only motive,' replied Venetia, 'for
having a secret from my mother.'
'In my absence from Cherbury you entered the chamber,' said Lady
Annabel, calmly. 'In the delirium of your fever I became acquainted
with a circumstance which so nearly proved fatal to you.'
Venetia's cheek turned scarlet.
'In that chamber you beheld the portrait of your father,' continued
Lady Annabel. 'From our friend you learnt that father was still
living. That is all?' said Lady Annabel, inquiringly.
'No, not all, dear mother; not all. Lord Cadurcis reproached me at
Cherbury with, with, with having such a father,' she added, in a
hesitating voice. 'It was then I learnt his misfortunes, mother; his
'I thought that misfortunes, that misery, were the lot of your other
parent,' replied Lady Annabel, somewhat coldly.
'Not with my love,' said Venetia, eagerly; 'not with my love, mother.
You have forgotten your misery in my love. Say so, say so, dearest
mother.' And Venetia threw herself on her knees before Lady Annabel,
and looked up with earnestness in her face.
The expression of that countenance had been for a moment stern, but
it relaxed into fondness, as Lady Annabel gently bowed her head, and
pressed her lips to her daughter's forehead. 'Ah, Venetia!' she said,
'all depends upon you. I can endure, nay, I can forget the past, if my
child be faithful to me. There are no misfortunes, there is no misery,
if the being to whom I have consecrated the devotion of my life will
only be dutiful, will only be guided by my advice, will only profit by
my sad experience.'
'Mother, I repeat I have no thought but for you,' said Venetia. 'My
own dearest mother, if my duty, if my devotion can content you, you
shall be happy. But wherein have I failed?'
'In nothing, love. Your life has hitherto been one unbroken course of
'And ever shall be,' said Venetia. 'But you were speaking, mother, you
were speaking of, of my, my father!'
'Of him!' said Lady Annabel, thoughtfully. 'You have seen his
Venetia kissed her mother's hand.
'Was he less beautiful than Cadurcis? Was he less gifted?' exclaimed
Lady Annabel, with animation. 'He could whisper in tones as sweet, and
pour out his vows as fervently. Yet what am I? O my child!' continued
Lady Annabel, 'beware of such beings! They bear within them a spirit
on which all the devotion of our sex is lavished in vain. A year, no!
not a year, not one short year! and all my hopes were blighted! O
Venetia! if your future should be like my bitter past! and it might
have been, and I might have contributed to the fulfilment! can you
wonder that I should look upon Cadurcis with aversion?'
'But, mother, dearest mother, we have known Plantagenet from his
childhood. You ever loved him; you ever gave him credit for a heart,
most tender and affectionate.'
'He has no heart.'
'He cannot have a heart. Spirits like him are heartless. It is another
impulse that sways their existence. It is imagination; it is vanity;
it is self, disguised with glittering qualities that dazzle our weak
senses, but selfishness, the most entire, the most concentrated. We
knew him as a child: ah! what can women know? We are born to love, and
to be deceived. We saw him young, helpless, abandoned; he moved our
pity. We knew not his nature; then he was ignorant of it himself. But
the young tiger, though cradled at our hearths and fed on milk, will
in good time retire to its jungle and prey on blood. You cannot change
its nature; and the very hand that fostered it will be its first
'How often have we parted!' said Venetia, in a deprecating tone; 'how
long have we been separated! and yet we find him ever the same; he
ever loves us. Yes! dear mother, he loves you now, the same as in old
days. If you had seen him, as I have seen him, weep when he recalled
your promise to be a parent to him, and then contrasted with such
sweet hopes your present reserve, oh! you would believe he had a
heart, you would, indeed!'
'Weep!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, bitterly, 'ay! they can weep.
Sensibility is a luxury which they love to indulge. Their very
susceptibility is our bane. They can weep; they can play upon our
feelings; and our emotion, so easily excited, is an homage to their
own power, in which they glory.
'Look at Cadurcis,' she suddenly resumed; 'bred with so much care;
the soundest principles instilled into him with such sedulousness;
imbibing them apparently with so much intelligence, ardour, and
sincerity, with all that fervour, indeed, with which men of his
temperament for the moment pursue every object; but a few years back,
pious, dutiful, and moral, viewing perhaps with intolerance too
youthful all that differed from the opinions and the conduct he had
been educated to admire and follow. And what is he now? The most
lawless of the wild; casting to the winds every salutary principle of
restraint and social discipline, and glorying only in the abandoned
energy of self. Three years ago, you yourself confessed to me, he
reproached you with your father's conduct; now he emulates it. There
is a career which such men must run, and from which no influence can
divert them; it is in their blood. To-day Cadurcis may vow to you
eternal devotion; but, if the world speak truth, Venetia, a month ago
he was equally enamoured of another, and one, too, who cannot be his.
But grant that his sentiments towards you are for the moment sincere;
his imagination broods upon your idea, it transfigures it with a halo
which exists only to his vision. Yield to him; become his bride; and
you will have the mortification of finding that, before six mouths
have elapsed, his restless spirit is already occupied with objects
which may excite your mortification, your disgust, even your horror!'
'Ah, mother! it is not with Plantagenet as with my father; Plantagenet
could not forget Cherbury, he could not forget our childhood,' said
'On the contrary, while you lived together these recollections would
be wearisome, common-place to him; when you had separated, indeed,
mellowed by distance, and the comparative vagueness with which your
absence would invest them, they would become the objects of his muse,
and he would insult you by making the public the confidant of all your
most delicate domestic feelings.'
Lady Annabel rose from her seat, and walked up and down the room,
speaking with an excitement very unusual with her. 'To have all
the soft secrets of your life revealed to the coarse wonder of the
gloating multitude; to find yourself the object of the world's
curiosity, still worse, their pity, their sympathy; to have the sacred
conduct of your hearth canvassed in every circle, and be the grand
subject of the pros and cons of every paltry journal, ah, Venetia! you
know not, you cannot understand, it is impossible you can comprehend,
the bitterness of such a lot.'
'My beloved mother!' said Venetia, with streaming eyes, 'you cannot
have a feeling that I do not share.'
'Venetia, you know not what I had to endure!' exclaimed Lady Annabel,
in a tone of extreme bitterness. 'There is no degree of wretchedness
that you can conceive equal to what has been the life of your mother.
And what has sustained me; what, throughout all my tumultuous
troubles, has been the star on which I have ever gazed? My child! And
am I to lose her now, after all my sufferings, all my hopes that she
at least might be spared my miserable doom? Am I to witness her also a
victim?' Lady Annabel clasped her hands in passionate grief.
'Mother! mother!' exclaimed Venetia, in agony, 'spare yourself, spare
'Venetia, you know how I have doted upon you; you know how I have
watched and tended you from your infancy. Have I had a thought, a
wish, a hope, a plan? has there been the slightest action of my life,
of which you have not been the object? All mothers feel, but none ever
felt like me; you were my solitary joy.'
Venetia leant her face upon the table at which she was sitting and
'My love was baffled,' Lady Annabel continued. 'I fled, for both our
sakes, from the world in which my family were honoured; I sacrificed
without a sigh, in the very prime of my youth, every pursuit which
interests woman; but I had my child, I had my child!'
'And you have her still!' exclaimed the miserable Venetia. 'Mother,
you have her still!'
'I have schooled my mind,' continued Lady Annabel, still pacing the
room with agitated steps; 'I have disciplined my emotions; I have felt
at my heart the constant the undying pang, and yet I have smiled, that
you might be happy. But I can struggle against my fate no longer. No
longer can I suffer my unparalleled, yes, my unjust doom. What have I
done to merit these afflictions? Now, then, let me struggle no more;
let me die!'
Venetia tried to rise; her limbs refused their office; she tottered;
she fell again into her seat with an hysteric cry.
'Alas! alas!' exclaimed Lady Annabel, 'to a mother, a child is
everything; but to a child, a parent is only a link in the chain of
her existence. It was weakness, it was folly, it was madness to stake
everything on a resource which must fail me. I feel it now, but I feel
it too late.'
Venetia held forth her arms; she could not speak; she was stifled with
'But was it wonderful that I was so weak?' continued her mother, as it
were communing only with herself. 'What child was like mine? Oh! the
joy, the bliss, the hours of rapture that I have passed, in gazing
upon my treasure, and dreaming of all her beauty and her rare
qualities! I was so happy! I was so proud! Ah, Venetia! you know not
how I have loved you!'
Venetia sprang from her seat; she rushed forward with convulsive
energy; she clung to her mother, threw her arms round her neck, and
buried her passionate woe in Lady Annabel's bosom.
Lady Annabel stood for some minutes supporting her speechless and
agitated child; then, as her sobs became fainter, and the tumult of
her grief gradually died away, she bore her to the sofa, and seated
herself by her side, holding Venetia's hand in her own, and ever and
anon soothing her with soft embraces, and still softer words.
At length, in a faint voice, Venetia said, 'Mother, what can I do to
restore the past? How can we be to each other as we were, for this I
'Love me, my Venetia, as I love you; be faithful to your mother; do
not disregard her counsel; profit by her errors.'
'I will in all things obey you,' said Venetia, in a low voice; 'there
is no sacrifice I am not prepared to make for your happiness.'
'Let us not talk of sacrifices, my darling child; it is not a
sacrifice that I require. I wish only to prevent your everlasting
'What, then, shall I do?'
'Make me only one promise; whatever pledge you give, I feel assured
that no influence, Venetia, will ever induce you to forfeit it.'
'Name it, mother.'
'Promise me never to marry Lord Cadurcis,' said Lady Annabel, in a
whisper, but a whisper of which not a word was lost by the person to
whom it was addressed.
'I promise never to marry, but with your approbation,' said Venetia,
in a solemn voice, and uttering the words with great distinctness.
The countenance of Lady Annabel instantly brightened; she embraced her
child with extreme fondness, and breathed the softest and the sweetest
expressions of gratitude and love.
When Lady Monteagle discovered that of which her good-natured friends
took care she should not long remain ignorant, that Venetia Herbert
had been the companion of Lord Cadurcis' childhood, and that the most
intimate relations had once subsisted between the two families,
she became the prey of violent jealousy; and the bitterness of her
feelings was not a little increased, when she felt that she had not
only been abandoned, but duped; and that the new beauty, out of his
fancy for whom she had flattered herself she had so triumphantly
rallied him, was an old friend, whom he always admired. She seized the
first occasion, after this discovery, of relieving her feelings, by
a scene so violent, that Cadurcis had never again entered Monteagle
House; and then repenting of this mortifying result, which she had
herself precipitated, she overwhelmed him with letters, which, next
to scenes, were the very things which Lord Cadurcis most heartily
abhorred. These, now indignant, now passionate, now loading him with
reproaches, now appealing to his love, and now to his pity, daily
arrived at his residence, and were greeted at first only with short
and sarcastic replies, and finally by silence. Then the lady solicited
a final interview, and Lord Cadurcis having made an appointment to
quiet her, went out of town the day before to Richmond, to a villa
belonging to Venetia's uncle, and where, among other guests, he was of
course to meet Lady Annabel and her daughter.
The party was a most agreeable one, and assumed an additional interest
with Cadurcis, who had resolved to seize this favourable opportunity
to bring his aspirations to Venetia to a crisis. The day after the
last conversation with her, which we have noticed, he had indeed
boldly called upon the Herberts at their hotel for that purpose, but
without success, as they were again absent from home. He had been
since almost daily in the society of Venetia; but London, to a lover
who is not smiled upon by the domestic circle of his mistress, is a
very unfavourable spot for confidential conversations. A villa life,
with its easy, unembarrassed habits, its gardens and lounging walks,
to say nothing of the increased opportunities resulting from being
together at all hours, and living under the same roof, was more
promising; and here he flattered himself he might defy even the Argus
eye and ceaseless vigilance of his intended mother-in-law, his enemy,
whom he could not propitiate, and whom he now fairly hated.
His cousin George, too, was a guest, and his cousin George was the
confidant of his love. Upon this kind relation devolved the duty, far
from a disagreeable one, of amusing the mother; and as Lady Annabel,
though she relaxed not a jot of the grim courtesy which she ever
extended to Lord Cadurcis, was no longer seriously uneasy as to his
influence after the promise she had exacted from her daughter, it
would seem that these circumstances combined to prevent Lord Cadurcis
from being disappointed at least in the first object which he wished
to obtain, an opportunity.
And yet several days elapsed before this offered itself, passed by
Cadurcis, however, very pleasantly in the presence of the being he
loved, and very judiciously too, for no one could possibly be more
amiable and ingratiating than our friend. Every one present, except
Lady Annabel, appeared to entertain for him as much affection as
admiration: those who had only met him in throngs were quite surprised
how their superficial observation and the delusive reports of the
world had misled them. As for his hostess, whom it had ever been his
study to please, he had long won her heart; and, as she could not
be blind to his projects and pretensions, she heartily wished him
success, assisted him with all her efforts, and desired nothing more
sincerely than that her niece should achieve such a conquest, and she
obtain so distinguished a nephew.
Notwithstanding her promise to her mother, Venetia felt justified in
making no alteration in her conduct to one whom she still sincerely
loved; and, under the immediate influence of his fascination, it was
often, when she was alone, that she mourned with a sorrowing heart
over the opinion which her mother entertained of him. Could it indeed
be possible that Plantagenet, the same Plantagenet she had known so
early and so long, to her invariably so tender and so devoted, could
entail on her, by their union, such unspeakable and inevitable misery?
Whatever might be the view adopted by her mother of her conduct,
Venetia felt every hour more keenly that it was a sacrifice, and the
greatest; and she still indulged in a vague yet delicious dream,
that Lady Annabel might ultimately withdraw the harsh and perhaps
heart-breaking interdict she had so rigidly decreed.
'Cadurcis,' said his cousin to him one morning, 'we are all going
to Hampton Court. Now is your time; Lady Annabel, the Vernons, and
myself, will fill one carriage; I have arranged that. Look out, and
something may be done. Speak to the Countess.'
Accordingly Lord Cadurcis hastened to make a suggestion to a friend
always flattered by his notice. 'My dear friend,' he said in his
softest tone, 'let you and Venetia and myself manage to be together;
it will be so delightful; we shall quite enjoy ourselves.'
The Countess did not require this animating compliment to effect the
object which Cadurcis did not express. She had gradually fallen
into the unacknowledged conspiracy against her sister-in-law, whose
prejudice against her friend she had long discovered, and had now
ceased to combat. Two carriages, and one filled as George had
arranged, accordingly drove gaily away; and Venetia, and her aunt, and
Lord Cadurcis were to follow them on horseback. They rode with delight
through the splendid avenues of Bushey, and Cadurcis was never in a
lighter or happier mood.
The month of May was in its decline, and the cloudless sky and the
balmy air such as suited so agreeable a season. The London season was
approaching its close; for the royal birthday was, at the period of
our history, generally the signal of preparation for country quarters.
The carriages arrived long before the riding party, for they had
walked their steeds, and they found a messenger who requested them to
join their friends in the apartments which they were visiting.
'For my part,' said Cadurcis, 'I love the sun that rarely shines in
this land. I feel no inclination to lose the golden hours in these
gloomy rooms. What say you, ladies fair, to a stroll in the gardens?
It will be doubly charming after our ride.'
His companions cheerfully assented, and they walked away,
congratulating themselves on their escape from the wearisome amusement
of palace-hunting, straining their eyes to see pictures hung at a
gigantic height, and solemnly wandering through formal apartments full
of state beds and massy cabinets and modern armour.
Taking their way along the terrace, they struck at length into a less
formal path. At length the Countess seated herself on a bench. 'I must
rest,' she said, 'but you, young people, may roam about; only do not
'Come, Venetia!' said Lord Cadurcis.
Venetia was hesitating; she did not like to leave her aunt alone, but
the Countess encouraged her, 'If you will not go, you will only make
me continue walking,' she said. And so Venetia proceeded, and for the
first time since her visit was alone with Plantagenet.
'I quite love your aunt,' said Lord Cadurcis.
'It is difficult indeed not to love her,' said Venetia.
'Ah, Venetia! I wish your mother was like your aunt,' he continued.
It was an observation which was not heard without some emotion by his
companion, though it was imperceptible. 'Venetia,' said Cadurcis,
'when I recollect old days, how strange it seems that we now never
should be alone, but by some mere accident, like this, for instance.'
'It is no use thinking of old days,' said Venetia.
'No use! said Cadurcis. 'I do not like to hear you say that, Venetia.
Those are some of the least agreeable words that were ever uttered
by that mouth. I cling to old days; they are my only joy and my only
'They are gone,' said Venetia.
'But may they not return?' said Cadurcis.
'Never,' said Venetia, mournfully.
They had walked on to a marble fountain of gigantic proportions and
elaborate workmanship, an assemblage of divinities and genii, all
spouting water in fantastic attitudes.
'Old days,' said Plantagenet, 'are like the old fountain at Cadurcis,
dearer to me than all this modern splendour.'
'The old fountain at Cadurcis,' said Venetia, musingly, and gazing on
the water with an abstracted air, 'I loved it well!'
'Venetia,' said her companion, in a tone of extreme tenderness, yet
not untouched with melancholy, 'dear Venetia, let us return, and
return together, to that old fountain and those old days!'
Venetia shook her head. 'Ah, Plantagenet!' she exclaimed in a mournful
voice, 'we must not speak of these things.'
'Why not, Venetia?' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, eagerly. 'Why should we
be estranged from each other? I love you; I love only you; never
have I loved another. And you, have you forgotten all our youthful
affection? You cannot, Venetia. Our childhood can never be a blank.'
'I told you, when first we met, my heart was unchanged,' said Venetia.
'Remember the vows I made to you when last at Cherbury,' said
Cadurcis. 'Years have flown on, Venetia; but they find me urging the
same. At any rate, now I know myself; at any rate, I am not now an
obscure boy; yet what is manhood, and what is fame, without the charm
of my infancy and my youth! Yes, Venetia! you must, you will he mine?'
'Plantagenet,' she replied, in a solemn tone, 'yours I never can be.'
'You do not, then, love me?' said Cadurcis reproachfully, and in a
voice of great feeling.
'It is impossible for you to be loved more than I love you,' said
'My own Venetia!' said Cadurcis; 'Venetia that I dote on! what does
this mean? Why, then, will you not be mine?'
'I cannot; there is an obstacle, an insuperable obstacle.'
'Tell it me,' said Cadurcis eagerly; 'I will overcome it.'
'I have promised never to marry without the approbation of my mother;
her approbation you never can obtain.'
Cadurcis' countenance fell; this was an obstacle which he felt that
even he could not overcome.
'I told you your mother hated me, Venetia.' And then, as she did not
reply, he continued, 'You confess it, I see you confess it. Once you
flattered me I was mistaken; but now, now you confess it.'
'Hatred is a word which I cannot understand,' replied Venetia. 'My
mother has reasons for disapproving my union with you; not founded on
the circumstances of your life, and therefore removable (for I know
what the world says, Plantagenet, of you), but I have confidence in
your love, and that is nothing; but founded on your character, on your
nature; they may be unjust, but they are insuperable, and I must yield
'You have another parent, Venetia,' said Cadurcis, in a tone of almost
irresistible softness, 'the best and greatest of men! Once you told me
that his sanction was necessary to your marriage. I will obtain it.
O Venetia! be mine, and we will join him; join that ill-fated and
illustrious being who loves you with a passion second only to mine;
him who has addressed you in language which rests on every lip, and
has thrilled many a heart that you even can never know. My adored
Venetia! picture to yourself, for one moment, a life with him; resting
on my bosom, consecrated by his paternal love! Let us quit this mean
and miserable existence, which we now pursue, which never could have
suited us; let us shun for ever this dull and degrading life, that is
not life, if life be what I deem it; let us fly to those beautiful
solitudes where he communes with an inspiring nature; let us, let us
He uttered these last words in a tone of melting tenderness; he leant
forward his head, and his gaze caught hers, which was fixed upon the
water. Her hand was pressed suddenly in his; his eye glittered, his
lip seemed still speaking; he awaited his doom.
The countenance of Venetia was quite pale, but it was disturbed. You
might see, as it were, the shadowy progress of thought, and mark the
tumultuous passage of conflicting passions. Her mind, for a moment,
was indeed a chaos. There was a terrible conflict between love and
duty. At length a tear, one solitary tear, burst from her burning
eye-ball, and stole slowly down her cheek; it relieved her pain. She
pressed Cadurcis hand, and speaking in a hollow voice, and with a look
vague and painful, she said, 'I am a victim, but I am resolved. I
never will desert her who devoted herself to me.'
Cadurcis quitted her hand rather abruptly, and began walking up and
down on the turf that surrounded the fountain.
'Devoted herself to you!' he exclaimed with a fiendish laugh, and
speaking, as was his custom, between his teeth. 'Commend me to such
devotion. Not content with depriving you of a father, now forsooth
she must bereave you of a lover too! And this is a mother, a devoted
mother! The cold-blooded, sullen, selfish, inexorable tyrant!'
'Plantagenet!' exclaimed Venetia with great animation.
'Nay, I will speak. Victim, indeed! You have ever been her slave. She
a devoted mother! Ay! as devoted as a mother as she was dutiful as a
wife! She has no heart; she never had a feeling. And she cajoles you
with her love, her devotion, the stern hypocrite!'
'I must leave you,' said Venetia; 'I cannot bear this.'
'Oh! the truth, the truth is precious,' said Cadurcis, taking her
hand, and preventing her from moving. 'Your mother, your devoted
mother, has driven one man of genius from her bosom, and his country.
Yet there is another. Deny me what I ask, and to-morrow's sun shall
light me to another land; to this I will never return; I will blend
my tears with your father's, and I will publish to Europe the double
infamy of your mother. I swear it solemnly. Still I stand here,
Venetia; prepared, if you will but smile upon me, to be her son, her
dutiful son. Nay! her slave like you. She shall not murmur. I will be
dutiful; she shall be devoted; we will all be happy,' he added in a
softer tone. 'Now, now, Venetia, my happiness is on the stake, now,
'I have spoken,' said Venetia. 'My heart may break, but my purpose
shall not falter.'
'Then my curse upon your mother's head?' said Cadurcis, with terrible
vehemency. 'May heaven rain all its plagues upon her, the Hecate!'
'I will listen no more,' exclaimed Venetia indignantly, and she moved
away. She had proceeded some little distance when she paused and
looked back; Cadurcis was still at the fountain, but he did not
observe her. She remembered his sudden departure from Cherbury; she
did not doubt that, in the present instance, he would leave them as
abruptly, and that he would keep his word so solemnly given. Her heart
was nearly breaking, but she could not bear the idea of parting in
bitterness with the being whom, perhaps, she loved best in the world.
She stopt, she called his name in a voice low indeed, but in that
silent spot it reached him. He joined her immediately, but with a slow
step. When he had reached her, he said, without any animation and in a
frigid tone, 'I believe you called me?'
Venetia burst into tears. 'I cannot bear to part in anger,
Plantagenet. I wished to say farewell in kindness. I shall always pray
for your happiness. God bless you, Plantagenet!'
Lord Cadurcis made no reply, though for a moment he seemed about to
speak; he bowed, and, as Venetia approached her aunt, he turned his
steps in a different direction.
Venetia stopped for a moment to collect herself before she joined
her aunt, but it was impossible to conceal her agitation from the
Countess. They had not, however, been long together before they
observed their friends in the distance, who had now quitted the
palace. Venetia made the utmost efforts to compose herself, and not
unsuccessful ones. She was sufficiently calm on their arrival, to
listen, if not to converse. The Countess, with all the tact of a
woman, covered her niece's confusion by her animated description of
their agreeable ride, and their still more pleasant promenade; and in
a few minutes the whole party were walking back to their carriages.
When they had arrived at the inn, they found Lord Cadurcis, to
whose temporary absence the Countess had alluded with some casual
observation which she flattered herself was very satisfactory.
Cadurcis appeared rather sullen, and the Countess, with feminine
quickness, suddenly discovered that both herself and her niece were
extremely fatigued, and that they had better return in the carriages.
There was one vacant place, and some of the gentlemen must ride
outside. Lord Cadurcis, however, said that he should return as he
came, and the grooms might lead back the ladies' horses; and so in a
few minutes the carriages had driven off.
Our solitary equestrian, however, was no sooner mounted than he put
his horse to its speed, and never drew in his rein until he reached
Hyde Park Corner. The rapid motion accorded with his tumultuous mood.
He was soon at home, gave his horse to a servant, for he had left
his groom behind, rushed into his library, tore up a letter of Lady
Monteagle's with a demoniac glance, and rang his bell with such force
that it broke. His valet, not unused to such ebullitions, immediately
'Has anything happened, Spalding?' said his lordship.
'Nothing particular, my lord. Her ladyship sent every day, and called
herself twice, but I told her your lordship was in Yorkshire.'
'That was right; I saw a letter from her. When did it come?'
'It has been here several days, my lord.'
'Mind, I am at home to nobody; I am not in town.'
The valet bowed and disappeared. Cadurcis threw himself into an easy
chair, stretched his legs, sighed, and then swore; then suddenly
starting up, he seized a mass of letters that were lying on the table,
and hurled them to the other end of the apartment, dashed several
books to the ground, kicked down several chairs that were in his way,
and began pacing the room with his usual troubled step; and so he
continued until the shades of twilight entered his apartment. Then he
pulled down the other bell-rope, and Mr. Spalding again appeared.
'Order posthorses for to-morrow,' said his lordship.
'Where to, my lord?'
'I don't know; order the horses.'
Mr. Spalding again bowed and disappeared.
In a few minutes he heard a great stamping and confusion in his
master's apartment, and presently the door opened and his master's
voice was heard calling him repeatedly in a very irritable tone.
'Why are there no bells in this cursed room?' inquired Lord Cadurcis.
'The ropes are broken, my lord.'
'Why are they broken?'
'I can't say, my lord,'
'I cannot leave this house for a day but I find everything in
confusion. Bring me some Burgundy.'
'Yes, my lord. There is a young lad, my lord, called a few minutes
back, and asked for your lordship. He says he has something very
particular to say to your lordship. I told him your lordship was out
of town. He said your lordship would wish very much to see him, and
that he had come from the Abbey.'
'The Abbey!' said Cadurcis, in a tone of curiosity. 'Why did you not
show him in?'
'Your lordship said you were not at home to anybody.'
'Idiot! Is this anybody? Of course I would have seen him. What the
devil do I keep you for, sir? You seem to me to have lost your head.'
Mr. Spalding retired.
'The Abbey! that is droll,' said Cadurcis. 'I owe some duties to the
poor Abbey. I should not like to quit England, and leave anybody in
trouble at the Abbey. I wish I had seen the lad. Some son of a tenant
who has written to me, and I have never opened his letters. I am
In a few minutes Mr. Spalding again entered the room. 'The young lad
has called again, my lord. He says he thinks your lordship has come to
town, and he wishes to see your lordship very much.'
'Bring lights and show him up. Show him up first.'
Accordingly, a country lad was ushered into the room, although it was
so dusky that Cadurcis could only observe his figure standing at the
'Well, my good fellow,' said Cadurcis; 'what do you want? Are you in
The boy hesitated.
'Speak out, my good fellow; do not be alarmed. If I can serve you, or
any one at the Abbey, I will do it.'
Here Mr. Spalding entered with the lights. The lad held a cotton
handkerchief to his face; he appeared to be weeping; all that was
seen of his head were his locks of red hair. He seemed a country lad,
dressed in a long green coat with silver buttons, and he twirled in
his disengaged hand a peasant's white hat.
'That will do, Spalding,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'Leave the room. Now,
my good fellow, my time is precious; but speak out, and do not be
'Cadurcis!' said the lad in a sweet and trembling voice.
'Gertrude, by G--d!' exclaimed Lord Cadurcis, starting. 'What infernal
masquerade is this?'
'Is it a greater disguise than I have to bear every hour of my life?'
exclaimed Lady Monteagle, advancing. 'Have I not to bear a smiling
face with a breaking heart?'
'By Jove! a scene,' exclaimed Cadurcis in a piteous tone.
'A scene!' exclaimed Lady Monteagle, bursting into a flood of
indignant tears. 'Is this the way the expression of my feelings is
ever to be stigmatised? Barbarous man!'
Cadurcis stood with his back to the fireplace, with his lips
compressed, and his hands under his coat-tails. He was resolved that
nothing should induce him to utter a word. He looked the picture of
'I know where you have been,' continued Lady Monteagle. 'You have been
to Richmond; you have been with Miss Herbert. Yes! I know all. I am a
victim, but I will not be a dupe. Yorkshire indeed! Paltry coward!'
Cadurcis hummed an air.
'And this is Lord Cadurcis!' continued the lady. 'The sublime,
ethereal Lord Cadurcis, condescending to the last refuge of the
meanest, most commonplace mind, a vulgar, wretched lie! What could
have been expected from such a mind? You may delude the world, but I
know you. Yes, sir! I know you. And I will let everybody know you. I
will tear away the veil of charlatanism with which you have enveloped
yourself. The world shall at length discover the nature of the idol
they have worshipped. All your meanness, all your falsehood, all your
selfishness, all your baseness, shall be revealed. I may be spurned,
but at any rate I will be revenged!'
Lord Cadurcis yawned.
'Insulting, pitiful wretch!' continued the lady. 'And you think that
I wish to hear you speak! You think the sound of that deceitful voice
has any charm for me! You are mistaken, sir! I have listened to you
too long. It was not to remonstrate with you that I resolved to see
you. The tones of your voice can only excite my disgust. I am here to
speak myself; to express to you the contempt, the detestation, the
aversion, the scorn, the hatred, which I entertain for you!'
Lord Cadurcis whistled.
The lady paused; she had effected the professed purport of her visit;
she ought now to have retired, and Cadurcis would most willingly have
opened the door for her, and bowed her out of his apartment. But her
conduct did not exactly accord with her speech. She intimated no
intention of moving. Her courteous friend retained his position, and
adhered to his policy of silence. There was a dead pause, and then
Lady Monteagle, throwing herself into a chair, went into hysterics.
Lord Cadurcis, following her example, also seated himself, took up a
book, and began to read.
The hysterics became fainter and fainter; they experienced all those
gradations of convulsive noise with which Lord Cadurcis was so well
acquainted; at length they subsided into sobs and sighs. Finally,
there was again silence, now only disturbed by the sound of a page
turned by Lord Cadurcis.
Suddenly the lady sprang from her seat, and firmly grasping the arm of
Cadurcis, threw herself on her knees at his side.
'Cadurcis!' she exclaimed, in a tender tone, 'do you love me?'
'My dear Gertrude,' said Lord Cadurcis, coolly, but rather regretting
he had quitted his original and less assailable posture, 'you know I
like quiet women.'
'Cadurcis, forgive me!' murmured the lady. 'Pity me! Think only how
miserable I am!'
'Your misery is of your own making,' said Lord Cadurcis. 'What
occasion is there for any of these extraordinary proceedings? I have
told you a thousand times that I cannot endure scenes. Female society
is a relaxation to me; you convert it into torture. I like to sail
upon a summer sea; and you always will insist upon a white squall.'
'But you have deserted me!'
'I never desert any one,' replied Cadurcis calmly, raising her from
her supplicating attitude, and leading her to a seat. 'The last time
we met, you banished me your presence, and told me never to speak to
you again. Well, I obeyed your orders, as I always do.'
'But I did not mean what I said,' said Lady Monteagle.
'How should I know that?' said Lord Cadurcis.
'Your heart ought to have assured you,' said the lady.
'The tongue is a less deceptive organ than the heart,' replied her
'Cadurcis,' said the lady, looking at her strange disguise, 'what do
you advise me to do?'
'To go home; and if you like I will order my vis-a-vis for you
directly,' and he rose from his seat to give the order.
'Ah!' you are sighing to get rid of me!' said the lady, in a
reproachful, but still subdued tone.
'Why, the fact is, Gertrude, I prefer calling upon you, to your
calling upon me. When I am fitted for your society, I seek it; and,
when you are good-tempered, always with pleasure; when I am not in the
mood for it, I stay away. And when I am at home, I wish to see no one.
I have business now, and not very agreeable business. I am disturbed
by many causes, and you could not have taken a step which could have
given me greater annoyance than the strange one you have adopted this
'I am sorry for it now,' said the lady, weeping. 'When shall I see you
'I will call upon you to-morrow, and pray receive me with smiles.'
'I ever will,' said the lady, weeping plenteously. 'It is all my
fault; you are ever too good. There is not in the world a kinder and
more gentle being than yourself. I shall never forgive myself for this
'Would you like to take anything?' said Lord Cadurcis: 'I am sure you
must feel exhausted. You see I am drinking wine; it is my only dinner
to-day, but I dare say there is some salvolatile in the house; I dare
say, when my maids go into hysterics, they have it!'
'Ah, mocker!' said Lady Monteagle; 'but I can pardon everything, if
you will only let me see you.'
'Au revoir! then,' said his lordship; 'I am sure the carriage must be
ready. I hear it. Come, Mr. Gertrude, settle your wig; it is quite
awry. By Jove! we might as well go to the Pantheon, as you are ready
dressed. I have a domino.' And so saying, Lord Cadurcis handed the
lady to his carriage, and pressed her lightly by the hand, as he
reiterated his promise of calling at Monteagle House the next day.
Lord Cadurcis, unhappy at home, and wearied of the commonplace
resources of society, had passed the night in every species of
dissipation; his principal companion being that same young nobleman in
whose company he had been when he first met Venetia at Ranelagh. The
morn was breaking when Cadurcis and his friend arrived at his door.
They had settled to welcome the dawn with a beaker of burnt Burgundy.
'Now, my dear Scrope,' said Cadurcis, 'now for quiet and philosophy.
The laughter of those infernal women, the rattle of those cursed dice,
and the oaths of those ruffians are still ringing in my ears. Let us
compose ourselves, and moralise.'
Accustomed to their master's habits, who generally turned night into
day, the household were all on the alert; a blazing fire greeted them,
and his lordship ordered instantly a devil and the burnt Burgundy.
'Sit you down here, my Scrope; that is the seat of honour, and you
shall have it. What is this, a letter? and marked "Urgent," and in a
man's hand. It must be read. Some good fellow nabbed by a bailiff,
or planted by his mistress. Signals of distress! We must assist our
The flame of the fire fell upon Lord Cadurcis' face as he read the
letter; he was still standing, while his friend was stretched out in
his easy chair, and inwardly congratulating himself on his comfortable
prospects. The countenance of Cadurcis did not change, but he bit
his lip, and read the letter twice, and turned it over, but with a
careless air; and then he asked what o'clock it was. The servant
informed him, and left the room.
'Scrope,' said Lord Cadurcis, quietly, and still standing, 'are you
'My dear fellow, I am as fresh as possible; you will see what justice
I shall do to the Burgundy.'
'"Burgundy to-morrow," as the Greek proverb saith,' observed Lord
Cadurcis. 'Read that.'
His companion had the pleasure of perusing a challenge from Lord
Monteagle, couched in no gentle terms, and requesting an immediate
'Well, I never heard anything more ridiculous in my life,' said Lord
Scrope. 'Does he want satisfaction because you have planted her?'
'D--n her!' said Lord Cadurcis. 'She has occasioned me a thousand
annoyances, and now she has spoilt our supper. I don't know, though;
he wants to fight quickly, let us fight at once. I will send him a
cartel now, and then we can have our Burgundy. You will go out with
me, of course? Hyde Park, six o'clock, and short swords.'
Lord Cadurcis accordingly sat down, wrote his letter, and dispatched
it by Mr. Spalding to Monteagle House, with peremptory instructions to
bring back an answer. The companions then turned to their devil.
'This is a bore, Cadurcis,' said Lord Scrope.
'It is. I cannot say I am very valorous in a bad cause. I do not like
to fight "upon compulsion," I confess. If I had time to screw my
courage up, I dare say I should do it very well. I dare say, for
instance, if ever I am publicly executed, I shall die game.'
'God forbid!' said Lord Scrope. 'I say, Cadurcis, I would not drink
any Burgundy if I were you. I shall take a glass of cold water.'
'Ah! you are only a second, and so you want to cool your valour,' said
Cadurcis. 'You have all the fun.'
'But how came this blow-up?' inquired Lord Scrope. 'Letters
discovered, eh? Because I thought you never saw her now?'
'By Jove! my dear fellow, she has been the whole evening here
masquerading it like a very vixen, as she is; and now she has
committed us both. I have burnt her letters, without reading them,
for the last month. Now I call that honourable; because, as I had no
longer any claim on her heart, I would not think of trenching on her