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perhaps one cause of his reserve. He knew what a beautiful possession is youth,–its sanguine hopes, its elastic spirit, its inexhaustible resources! What to the eyes of woman were the acquisitions which manhood had brought him,–the vast but the sad experience, the arid wisdom, the philosophy based on disappointment? He might be loved but for the vain glitter of name and reputation,–and love might vanish as custom dimmed the illusion. Men of strong affections are jealous of their own genius. They know how separate a thing from the household character genius often is,–they fear lest they should be loved for a quality, not for themselves.

Thus communed he with himself; thus, as the path had become clear to his hopes, did new fears arise; and thus did love bring, as it ever does, in its burning wake,–

“The pang, the agony, the doubt!”

Maltravers then confirmed himself in the resolution he had formed: he would cautiously examine Evelyn and himself; he would weigh in the balance every straw that the wind should turn up; he would not aspire to the treasure, unless he could feel secure that the coffer could preserve the gem. This was not only a prudent, it was a just and a generous determination. It was one which we all ought to form if the fervour of our passions will permit us. We have no right to sacrifice years to moments, and to melt the pearl that has no price in a single draught! But can Maltravers adhere to his wise precautions? The truth must be spoken,–it was, perhaps, the first time in his life that Maltravers had been really in love. As the reader will remember, he had not been in love with the haughty Florence; admiration, gratitude,–the affection of the head, not that of the feelings,–had been the links that bound him to the enthusiastic correspondent revealed in the gifted beauty; and the gloomy circumstances connected with her early fate had left deep furrows in his memory. Time and vicissitude had effaced the wounds, and the Light of the Beautiful dawned once more in the face of Evelyn. Valerie de Ventadour had been but the fancy of a roving breast. Alice, the sweet Alice!–her, indeed, in the first flower of youth, he had loved with a boy’s romance. He had loved her deeply, fondly,–but perhaps he had never been in love with her; he had mourned her loss for years,–insensibly to himself her loss had altered his character and cast a melancholy gloom over all the colours of his life. But she whose range of ideas was so confined, she who had but broke into knowledge, as the chrysalis into the butterfly–how much in that prodigal and gifted nature, bounding onwards into the broad plains of life, must the peasant girl have failed to fill! They had had nothing in common but their youth and their love. It was a dream that had hovered over the poet-boy in the morning twilight,–a dream he had often wished to recall, a dream that had haunted him in the noon-day,–but had, as all boyish visions ever have done, left the heart unexhausted, and the passions unconsumed! Years, long years, since then had rolled away, and yet, perhaps, one unconscious attraction that drew Maltravers so suddenly towards Evelyn was a something indistinct and undefinable that reminded him of Alice. There was no similarity in their features; but at times a tone in Evelyn’s voice, a “trick of the manner,” an air, a gesture, recalled him, over the gulfs of Time, to Poetry, and Hope, and Alice.

In the youth of each–the absent and the present one–there was resemblance,–resemblance in their simplicity, their grace. Perhaps Alice, of the two, had in her nature more real depth, more ardour of feeling, more sublimity of sentiment, than Evelyn. But in her primitive ignorance half her noblest qualities were embedded and unknown. And Evelyn–his equal in rank; Evelyn, well cultivated; Evelyn, so long courted, so deeply studied–had such advantages over the poor peasant girl! Still the poor peasant girl often seemed to smile on him from that fair face; and in Evelyn he half loved Alice again!

So these two persons now met daily; their intercourse was even more familiar than before, their several minds grew hourly more developed and transparent to each other. But of love Maltravers still forbore to speak; they were friends,–no more; such friends as the disparity of their years and their experience might warrant them to be. And in that young and innocent nature–with its rectitude, its enthusiasm, and its pious and cheerful tendencies–Maltravers found freshness in the desert, as the camel-driver lingering at the well. Insensibly his heart warmed again to his kind; and as the harp of David to the ear of Saul, was the soft voice that lulled remembrance and awakened hope in the lonely man.

Meanwhile, what was the effect that the presence, the attentions, of Maltravers produced on Evelyn? Perhaps it was of that kind which most flatters us and most deceives. She never dreamed of comparing him with others. To her thoughts he stood aloof and alone from all his kind. It may seem a paradox, but it might be that she admired and venerated him almost too much for love. Still her pleasure in his society was so evident and unequivocal, her deference to his opinion so marked, she sympathized in so many of his objects, she had so much blindness or forbearance for his faults (and he never sought to mask them), that the most diffident of men might have drawn from so many symptoms hopes the most auspicious. Since the departure of Legard, the gayeties of Paris lost their charm for Evelyn, and more than ever she could appreciate the society of her friend. He thus gradually lost his earlier fears of her forming too keen an attachment to the great world; and as nothing could be more apparent than Evelyn’s indifference to the crowd of flatterers and suitors that hovered round her, Maltravers no longer dreaded a rival. He began to feel assured that they had both gone through the ordeal; and that he might ask for love without a doubt of its immutability and faith. At this period they were both invited, with the Doltimores, to spend a few days at the villa of De Montaigne, near St. Cloud. And there it was that Maltravers determined to know his fate!


CHAOS of Thought and Passion all confused.–POPE.

IT is to the contemplation of a very different scene that the course of our story now conducts us.

Between St. Cloud and Versailles there was at that time–perhaps there still is–a lone and melancholy house, appropriated to the insane,–melancholy, not from its site, but the purpose to which it is devoted. Placed on an eminence, the windows of the mansion command–beyond the gloomy walls that gird the garden ground–one of those enchanting prospects which win for France her title to _La Belle_. There the glorious Seine is seen in the distance, broad and winding through the varied plains, and beside the gleaming villages and villas. There, too, beneath the clear blue sky of France, the forest-lands of Versailles and St. Germains stretch in dark luxuriance around and afar. There you may see sleeping on the verge of the landscape the mighty city,–crowned with the thousand spires from which, proud above the rest, rises the eyry of Napoleon’s eagle, the pinnacle of Notre Dame.

Remote, sequestered, the place still commands the survey of the turbulent world below; and Madness gazes upon prospects that might well charm the thoughtful eyes of Imagination or of Wisdom! In one of the rooms of this house sat Castruccio Cesarini. The apartment was furnished even with elegance; a variety of books strewed the table; nothing for comfort or for solace that the care and providence of affection could dictate was omitted. Cesarini was alone: leaning his cheek upon his hand, he gazed on the beautiful and tranquil view we have described. “And am I never to set a free foot on that soil again?” he muttered indignantly, as he broke from his revery.

The door opened, and the keeper of the sad abode (a surgeon of humanity and eminence) entered, followed by De Montaigne. Cesarini turned round and scowled upon the latter; the surgeon, after a few words of salutation, withdrew to a corner of the room, and appeared absorbed in a book. De Montaigne approached his brother-in-law,–“I have brought you some poems just published at Milan, my dear Castruccio,–they will please you.”

“Give me my liberty!” cried Cesarini, clenching his hands. “Why am I to be detained here? Why are my nights to be broken by the groans of maniacs, and my days devoured in a solitude that loathes the aspect of things around me? Am I mad? You know I am not! It is an old trick to say that poets are mad,–you mistake our agonies for insanity. See, I am calm; I can reason: give me any test of sound mind–no matter how rigid–I will pass it; I am not mad,–I swear I am not!”

“No, my dear Castruccio,” said De Montaigne, soothingly; “but you are still unwell,–you still have fever; when next I see you perhaps you may be recovered sufficiently to dismiss the doctor and change the air. Meanwhile is there anything you would have added or altered?”

Cesarini had listened to this speech with a mocking sarcasm on his lip, but an expression of such hopeless wretchedness in his eyes, as they alone can comprehend who have witnessed madness in its lucid intervals. He sank down, and his head drooped gloomily on his breast. “No,” said he; “I want nothing but free air or death,–no matter which.”

De Montaigne stayed some time with the unhappy man, and sought to soothe him; but it was in vain. Yet when he rose to depart, Cesarini started up, and fixing on him his large wistful eyes, exclaimed, “Ah! do not leave me yet. It is so dreadful to be alone with the dead and the worse than dead!”

The Frenchman turned aside to wipe his eyes, and stifle the rising at his heart; and again he sat, and again he sought to soothe. At length Cesarini, seemingly more calm, gave him leave to depart. “Go,” said he, “go; tell Teresa I am better, that I love her tenderly, that I shall live to tell her children not to be poets. Stay, you asked if there was aught I wished changed: yes, this room; it is too still: I hear my own pulse beat so loudly in the silence, it is horrible! There is a room below, by the window of which there is a tree, and the winds rock its boughs to and fro, and it sighs and groans like a living thing; it will be pleasant to look at that tree, and see the birds come home to it,–yet that tree is wintry and blasted too! It will be pleasant to hear it fret and chafe in the stormy nights; it will be a friend to me, that old tree! let me have that room. Nay, look not at each other,–it is not so high as this; but the window is barred,–I cannot escape!” And Cesarini smiled.

“Certainly,” said the surgeon, “if you prefer that room; but it has not so fine a view.”

“I hate the view of the world that has cast me off. When may I change?”

“This very evening.”

“Thank you; it will be a great revolution in my life.”

And Cesarini’s eyes brightened, and he looked happy. De Montaigne, thoroughly unmanned, tore himself away.

The promise was kept, and Cesarini was transferred that night to the chamber he had selected.

As soon as it was deep night, the last visit of the keeper paid, and, save now and then, by some sharp cry in the more distant quarter of the house, all was still, Cesarini rose from his bed; a partial light came from the stars that streamed through the frosty and keen air, and cast a sickly gleam through the heavy bars of the casement. It was then that Cesarini drew from under his pillow a long-cherished and carefully-concealed treasure. Oh, with what rapture had he first possessed himself of it! with what anxiety had it been watched and guarded! how many cunning stratagems and profound inventions had gone towards the baffling, the jealous search of the keeper and his myrmidons! The abandoned and wandering mother never clasped her child more fondly to her bosom, nor gazed upon his features with more passionate visions for the future. And what had so enchanted the poor prisoner, so deluded the poor maniac? A large nail! He had found it accidentally in the garden; he had hoarded it for weeks,–it had inspired him with the hope of liberty. Often, in the days far gone, he had read of the wonders that had been effected, of the stones removed, and the bars filed, by the self-same kind of implement. He remembered that the most celebrated of those bold unfortunates who live a life against the law, had said, “Choose my prison, and give me but a rusty nail, and I laugh at your jailers and your walls!” He crept to the window; he examined his relic by the dim starlight; he kissed it passionately, and the tears stood in his eyes.

Ah, who shall determine the worth of things? No king that night so prized his crown as the madman prized that rusty inch of wire,–the proper prey of the rubbish-cart and dunghill. Little didst thou think, old blacksmith, when thou drewest the dull metal from the fire, of what precious price it was to become!

Cesarini, with the astuteness of his malady, had long marked out this chamber for the scene of his operations; he had observed that the framework in which the bars were set seemed old and worm-eaten; that the window was but a few feet from the ground; that the noise made in the winter nights by the sighing branches of the old tree without would deaden the sound of the lone workman. Now, then, his hopes were to be crowned. Poor fool! and even _thou_ hast hope still! All that night he toiled and toiled, and sought to work his iron into a file; now he tried the bars, and now the framework. Alas! he had not learned the skill in such tools, possessed by his renowned model and inspirer; the flesh was worn from his fingers, the cold drops stood on his brow; and morning surprised him, advanced not a hair-breadth in his labour.

He crept back to bed, and again hid the useless implement, and at last he slept.

And, night after night, the same task, the same results! But at length, one day, when Cesarini returned from his moody walk in the gardens (_pleasure_-grounds they were called by the owner), he found better workmen than he at the window; they were repairing the framework, they were strengthening the bars,–all hope was now gone! The unfortunate said nothing; too cunning to show his despair he eyed them silently, and cursed them; but the old tree was left still, and that was something,–company and music.

A day or two after this barbarous counterplot, Cesarini was walking in the gardens towards the latter part of the afternoon (just when in the short days the darkness begins to steal apace over the chill and western sun), when he was accosted by a fellow-captive, who had often before sought his acquaintance; for they try to have friends,–those poor people! Even _we_ do the same; though _we_ say we are _not_ mad! This man had been a warrior, had served with Napoleon, had received honours and ribbons,–might, for aught we know, have dreamed of being a marshal! But the demon smote him in the hour of his pride. It was his disease to fancy himself a monarch. He believed, for he forgot chronology, that he was at once the Iron Mask, and the true sovereign of France and Navarre, confined in state by the usurpers of his crown. On other points he was generally sane; a tall, strong man, with fierce features, and stern lines, wherein could be read many a bloody tale of violence and wrong, of lawless passions, of terrible excesses, to which madness might be at once the consummation and the curse. This man had taken a fancy to Cesarini; and, in some hours Cesarini had shunned him less than others,–for they could alike rail against all living things. The lunatic approached Cesarini with an air of dignity and condescension.

“It is a cold night, sir,–and there will be no moon. Has it never occurred to you that the winter is the season for escape?”

Cesarini started; the ex-officer continued,–

“Ay, I see by your manner that you, too, chafe at our ignominious confinement. I think that together we might brave the worst. You probably are confined on some state offence. I give you full pardon, if you assist me. For myself I have but to appear in my capital; old Louis le Grand must be near his last hour.”

“This madman my best companion!” thought Cesarini, revolting at his own infirmity, as Gulliver started from the Yahoo. “No matter, he talks of escape.

“And how think you,” said the Italian, aloud,–“how think you, that we have any chance of deliverance?”

“Hush, speak lower,” said the soldier. “In the inner garden, I have observed for the last two days that a gardener is employed in nailing some fig-trees and vines to the wall. Between that garden and these grounds there is but a paling, which we can easily scale. He works till dusk; at the latest hour we can, let us climb noiselessly over the paling, and creep along the vegetable beds till we reach the man. He uses a ladder for his purpose; the rest is clear,–we must fell and gag him,–twist his neck if necessary,–I have twisted a neck before,” quoth the maniac, with a horrid smile. “The ladder will help us over the wall, and the night soon grows dark at this season.”

Cesarini listened, and his heart beat quick. “Will it be too late to try to-night?” said he in a whisper.

“Perhaps not,” said the soldier, who retained all his military acuteness. “But are you prepared,–don’t you require time to man yourself?”

“No–no,–I have had time enough!–I am ready.”

“Well, then,–hist!—we are watched–one of the jailers! Talk easily, smile, laugh. This way.”

They passed by one of the watch of the place, and just as they were in his hearing, the soldier turned to Cesarini, “Sir, will you favour me with your snuff-box?”

“I have none.”

“None? what a pity! My good friend,” and he turned to the scout, “may I request you to look in my room for my snuff-box? It is on the chimney-piece,–it will not take you a minute.”

The soldier was one of those whose insanity was deemed most harmless, and his relations, who were rich and wellborn, had requested every indulgence to be shown to him. The watch suspected nothing, and repaired to the house. As soon as the trees hid him,–“Now,” said the soldier, “stoop almost on all fours, and run quick.”

So saying the maniac crouched low, and glided along with a rapidity which did not distance Cesarini. They reached the paling that separated the vegetable garden from the pleasure-ground; the soldier vaulted over it with ease, Cesarini with more difficulty followed. They crept along; the herbs and vegetable beds, with their long bare stalks, concealed their movements; the man was still on the ladder. “_La bonne Esperance_” said the soldier through his ground teeth, muttering some old watchword of the wars, and (while Cesarini, below, held the ladder steadfast) he rushed up the steps, and with a sudden effort of his muscular arm, hurled the gardener to the ground. The man, surprised, half stunned, and wholly terrified, did not attempt to wrestle with the two madmen, he uttered loud cries for help! But help came too late; these strange and fearful comrades had already scaled the wall, had dropped on the other side, and were fast making across the dusky fields to the neighbouring forest.


HOPES and Fears
Start up alarmed, and o’er life’s narrow verge Look down: on what?–a fathomless abyss!–YOUNG.

MIDNIGHT–and intense frost! There they were–houseless and breadless–the two fugitives, in the heart of that beautiful forest which has rung to the horns of many a royal chase. The soldier, whose youth had been inured to hardships, and to the conquests which our mother-wit wrings from the stepdame Nature, had made a fire by the friction of two pieces of dry wood; such wood was hard to be found, for the snow whitened the level ground, and lay deep in the hollows; and when it was discovered, the fuel was slow to burn; however, the fire blazed red at last. On a little mound, shaded by a semicircle of huge trees, sat the Outlaws of Human Reason. They cowered over the blaze opposite to each other, and the glare crimsoned their features. And each in his heart longed to rid himself of his mad neighbour; and each felt the awe of solitude,–the dread of sleep beside a comrade whose soul had lost God’s light!

“Ho!” said the warrior, breaking a silence that had been long kept, “this is cold work at the best, and hunger pinches me; I almost regret the prison.”

“I do not feel the cold,” said Cesarini, “and I do not care for hunger: I am revelling only in the sense of liberty!”

“Try and sleep,” quoth the soldier, with a coaxing and, sinister softness of voice; “we will take it by turns to watch.”

“I cannot sleep,–take you the first turn.”

“Hark ye, sir!” said the soldier sullenly; “I must not have my commands disputed; now we are free, we are no longer equal: I am heir to the crowns of France and Navarre. Sleep, I say!”

“And what Prince or Potentate, King or Kaiser,” cried Cesarini, catching the quick contagion of the fit that had seized his comrade, “can dictate to the monarch of Earth and Air, the Elements and the music-breathing Stars? I am Cesarini the Bard! and the huntsman Orion halts in his chase above to listen to my lyre! Be stilled, rude man!–thou scarest away the angels, whose breath even now was rushing through my hair!”

“It is too horrible!” cried the grim man of blood, shivering; “my enemies are relentless, and give me a madman for a jailer!”

“Ha! a madman!” exclaimed Cesarini, springing to his feet, and glaring at the soldier with eyes that caught and rivalled the blaze of the fire. “And who are you?–what devil from the deep hell, that art leagued with my persecutors against me?”

With the instinct of his old calling and valour, the soldier also rose when he saw the movement of his companion; and his fierce features worked with rage and fear.

“Avaunt!” said he, waving his arm; “we banish thee from our presence! This is our palace!–and our guards are at hand!” pointing to the still and skeleton trees that grouped round in ghastly bareness. “Begone!”

At that moment they heard at a distance the deep barking of a dog, and each cried simultaneously, “They are after me!–betrayed!” The soldier sprang at the throat of Cesarini; but the Italian, at the same instant, caught a half-burned brand from the fire, and dashed the blazing end in the face of his assailant. The soldier uttered a cry of pain, and recoiled back, blinded and dismayed. Cesarini, whose madness, when fairly roused, was of the most deadly nature, again raised his weapon, and probably nothing but death could have separated the foes; but again the bay of the dog was heard, and Cesarini, answering the sound by a wild yell, threw down the brand, and fled away through the forest with inconceivable swiftness. He hurried on through bush and dell,–and the boughs tore his garments and mangled his flesh,–but stopped not his progress till he fell at last on the ground, breathless and exhausted, and heard from some far-off clock the second hour of morning. He had left the forest; a farmhouse stood before him, and the whitened roofs of scattered cottages sloped to the tranquil sky. The witness of man–the social tranquil sky and the reasoning man–operated like a charm upon the senses which recent excitement had more than usually disturbed. The unhappy wretch gazed at the peaceful abodes, and sighed heavily; then, rising from the earth, he crept into one of the sheds that adjoined the farmhouse, and throwing himself on some straw, slept sound and quietly till daylight, and the voices of peasants in the shed awakened him.

He rose refreshed, calm, and, for ordinary purposes, sufficiently sane to prevent suspicion of his disease. He approached the startled peasants, and representing himself as a traveller who had lost his way in the night and amidst the forest, begged for food and water. Though his garments were torn, they were new and of good fashion; his voice was mild; his whole appearance and address those of one of some station–and the French peasant is a hospitable fellow. Cesarini refreshed and rested himself an hour or two at the farm, and then resumed his wanderings; he offered no money, for the rules of the asylum forbade money to its inmates,–he had none with him; but none was expected from him, and they bade him farewell as kindly as if he had bought their blessings. He then began to consider where he was to take refuge, and how provide for himself; the feeling of liberty braced, and for a time restored, his intellect.

Fortunately, he had on his person, besides some rings of trifling cost, a watch of no inconsiderable value, the sale of which might support him, in such obscure and humble quarter as he could alone venture to inhabit, for several weeks, perhaps months. This thought made him cheerful and elated; he walked lustily on, shunning the high road. The day was clear, the sun bright, the air full of racy health. Oh, what soft raptures swelled the heart of the wanderer, as he gazed around him! The Poet and the Freeman alike stirred within his shattered heart! He paused to contemplate the berries of the icy trees, to listen to the sharp glee of the blackbird; and once–when he found beneath a hedge a cold, scentless group of hardy violets–he laughed aloud in his joy. In that laughter there was no madness, no danger; but when as he journeyed on, he passed through a little hamlet, and saw the children at play upon the ground, and heard from the open door of a cabin the sound of rustic music, then indeed he paused abruptly; the past gathered over him: _he knew that which he had been, that which he was now_!–an awful memory! a dread revelation! And, covering his face with his hands, he wept aloud. In those tears were the peril and method of madness. He woke from them to think of his youth, his hopes, of Florence, of revenge! Lumley Lord Vargrave! better, from that hour, to encounter the tiger in his lair than find thyself alone with that miserable man!


IT seemed the laurel chaste and stubborn oak, And all the gentle trees on earth that grew, It seemed the land, the sea, and heaven above, All breathed out fancy sweet, and sighed out love. FAIRFAX’S _Tasso_.

AT De Montaigne’s villa, Evelyn, for the first time, gathered from the looks, the manners, of Maltravers that she was beloved. It was no longer possible to mistake the evidences of affection. Formerly, Maltravers had availed himself of his advantage of years and experience, and would warn, admonish, dispute, even reprove; formerly, there had been so much of seeming caprice, of cold distance, of sudden and wayward haughtiness, in his bearing; but now the whole man was changed,–the Mentor had vanished in the Lover; he held his being on her breath. Her lightest pleasure seemed to have grown his law, no coldness ever alternated the deep devotion of his manner; an anxious, a timid, a watchful softness replaced all his stately self-possession. Evelyn saw that she was loved; and she then looked into her own heart.

I have said before that Evelyn was gentle, even to _yieldingness_; that her susceptibility made her shrink from the thought of pain to another: and so thoroughly did she revere Maltravers, so grateful did she feel for a love that could not but flatter pride, and raise her in her self-esteem, that she felt it impossible that she could reject his suit. “Then, do I love him as I dreamed I could love?” she asked herself; and her heart gave no intelligible reply. “Yes, it must be so; in his presence I feel a tranquil and eloquent charm; his praise delights me; his esteem is my most high ambition;–and yet–and yet–” she sighed and thought of Legard; “but _he_ loved me not!” and she turned restlessly from that image. “He thinks but of the world, of pleasure; Maltravers is right,–the spoiled children of society cannot love: why should I think of him?”

There were no guests at the villa, except Maltravers, Evelyn, and Lord and Lady Doltimore. Evelyn was much captivated by the graceful vivacity of Teresa, though that vivacity was not what it had been before her brother’s affliction; their children, some of whom had grown up, constituted an amiable and intelligent family; and De Montaigne himself was agreeable and winning, despite his sober manners and his love of philosophical dispute. Evelyn often listened thoughtfully to Teresa’s praises of her husband,–to her account of the happiness she had known in a marriage where there had been so great a disparity of years; Evelyn began to question the truth of her early visions of romance.

Caroline saw the unequivocal attachment of Maltravers with the same indifference with which she had anticipated the suit of Legard. It was the same to her what hand delivered Evelyn and herself from the designs of Vargrave; but Vargrave occupied nearly all her thoughts. The newspapers had reported him as seriously ill,–at one time in great danger. He was now recovering, but still unable to quit his room. He had written to her once, lamenting his ill-fortune, trusting soon to be at Paris; and touching, with evident pleasure, upon Legard’s departure for Vienna, which he had seen in the “Morning Post.” But he was afar–alone, ill, untended; and though Caroline’s guilty love had been much abated by Vargrave’s icy selfishness, by absence and remorse, still she had the heart of a woman,–and Vargrave was the only one that had ever touched it. She felt for him, and grieved in silence; she did not dare to utter sympathy aloud, for Doltimore had already given evidence of a suspicious and jealous temper.

Evelyn was also deeply affected by the account of her guardian’s illness. As I before said, the moment he ceased to be her lover, her childish affection for him returned. She even permitted herself to write to him; and a tone of melancholy depression which artfully pervaded his reply struck her with something like remorse. He told her in the letter that he had much to say to her relative to an investment, in conformity with her stepfather’s wishes, and he should hasten to Paris, even before the doctor would sanction his removal. Vargrave forbore to mention what the meditated investment was. The last public accounts of the minister had, however, been so favourable, that his arrival might be almost daily expected; and both Caroline and Evelyn felt relieved.

To De Montaigne, Maltravers confided his attachment, and both the Frenchman and Teresa sanctioned and encouraged it. Evelyn enchanted them; and they had passed that age when they could have imagined it possible that the man they had known almost as a boy was separated by years from the lively feelings and extreme youth of Evelyn. They could not believe that the sentiments he had inspired were colder than those that animated himself.

One day, Maltravers had been absent for some hours on his solitary rambles, and De Montaigne had not yet returned from Paris, which he visited almost daily. It was so late in the noon as almost to border on evening, when Maltravers; on his return, entered the grounds by a gate that separated them from an extensive wood. He saw Evelyn, Teresa, and two of her children walking on a terrace immediately before him. He joined them; and, somehow or other, it soon chanced that Teresa and himself loitered behind the rest, a little out of hearing. “Ah, Mr. Maltravers,” said the former, “we miss the soft skies of Italy and the beautiful hues of Como.”

“And, for my part, I miss the youth that gave ‘glory to the grass and splendour to the flower.'”

“Nay; we are happier now, believe me,–or at least I should be, if–But I must not think of my poor brother. Ah, if his guilt deprived you of one who was worthy of you, it would be some comfort to his sister to think at last that the loss was repaired. And you still have scruples?”

“Who that loves truly has not? How young, how lovely, how worthy of lighter hearts and fairer forms than mine! Give me back the years that have passed since we last met at Como, and I might hope!”

“And this to me who have enjoyed such happiness with one older, when we married, by ten years than you are now!”

“But you, Teresa, were born to see life through the Claude glass.”

“Ah, you provoke me with these refinements; you turn from a happiness you have but to demand.”

“Do not–do not raise my hopes too high,” cried Maltravers, with great emotion; “I have been schooling myself all day. But if I _am_ deceived!”

“Trust me, you are not. See, even now she turns round to look for you; she loves you,–loves you as you deserve. This difference of years that you so lament does but deepen and elevate her attachment!”

Teresa turned to Maltravers, surprised at his silence. How joyous sat his heart upon his looks,–no gloom on his brow, no doubt in his sparkling eyes! He was mortal, and he yielded to the delight of believing himself beloved. He pressed Teresa’s hand in silence, and, quitting her abruptly, gained the side of Evelyn. Madame de Montaigne comprehended all that passed within him; and as she followed, she soon contrived to detach her children, and returned with them to the house on a whispered pretence of seeing if their father had yet arrived. Evelyn and Maltravers continued to walk on,–not aware, at first, that the rest of the party were not close behind.

The sun had set; and they were in a part of the grounds which, by way of contrast to the rest, was laid out in the English fashion; the walk wound, serpent-like, among a profusion of evergreens irregularly planted; the scene was shut in and bounded, except where at a distance, through an opening of the trees, you caught the spire of a distant church, over which glimmered, faint and fair, the smile of the evening star.

“This reminds me of home,” said Evelyn, gently.

“And hereafter it will remind me of you,” said Maltravers, in whispered accents. He fixed his eyes on her as he spoke. Never had his look been so true to his heart; never had his voice so undisguisedly expressed the profound and passionate sentiment which had sprung up within him,–to constitute, as he then believed, the latest bliss, or the crowning misery, of his life! At that moment, it was a sort of instinct that told him they were _alone_; for who has not felt–in those few and memorable hours of life when love long suppressed overflows the fountain, and seems to pervade the whole frame and the whole spirit–that there is a magic around and within us that hath a keener intelligence than intellect itself? Alone at such an hour with the one we love, the whole world besides seems to vanish, and our feet to have entered the soil, and our lips to have caught the air, of Fairyland.

They were alone. And why did Evelyn tremble? Why did she feel that a crisis of existence was at hand?

“Miss Cameron–Evelyn,” said Maltravers, after they had walked some moments in silence, “hear me–and let your reason as well as your heart reply. From the first moment we met, you became dear to me. Yes, even when a child, your sweetness and your fortitude foretold so well what you would be in womanhood; even then you left upon my memory a delightful and mysterious shadow,–too prophetic of the light that now hallows and wraps your image! We met again,–and the attraction that had drawn me towards you years before was suddenly renewed. I love you, Evelyn! I love you better than all words can tell! Your future fate, your welfare, your happiness, contain and embody all the hopes left to me in life! But our years are different, Evelyn; I have known sorrows,–and the disappointments and the experience that have severed me from the common world have robbed me of more than time itself hath done. They have robbed me of that zest for the ordinary pleasures of our race,–which may it be yours, sweet Evelyn, ever to retain! To me, the time foretold by the Preacher as the lot of age has already arrived, when the sun and the moon are darkened, and when, save in you and through you, I have no pleasure in anything. Judge, if such a being you can love! Judge, if my very confession does not revolt and chill, if it does not present to you a gloomy and cheerless future, were it possible that you could unite your lot to mine! Answer not from friendship or from pity; the love I feel for you can have a reply from love alone, and from that reasoning which love, in its enduring power, in its healthful confidence, in its prophetic foresight, alone supplies! I can resign you without a murmur; but I could not live with you and even fancy that you had one care I could not soothe, though you might have happiness I could not share. And fate does not present to me any vision so dark and terrible–no, not your loss itself; no, not your indifference; no, not your aversion–as your discovery, after time should make regret in vain, that you had mistaken fancy or friendship for affection, a sentiment for love. Evelyn, I have confided to you all,–all this wild heart, now and evermore your own. My destiny is with you.”

Evelyn was silent; he took her hand, and her tears fell warm and fast upon it. Alarmed and anxious, he drew her towards him and gazed upon her face.

“You fear to wound me,” he said, with pale lips and trembling voice. “Speak on,–I can bear all.”

“No, no,” said Evelyn, falteringly; “I have no fear but not to deserve you.”

“You love me, then,–you love me!” cried Maltravers wildly, and clasping her to his heart.

The moon rose at that instant, and the wintry sward and the dark trees were bathed in the sudden light. The time–the light–so exquisite to all, even in loneliness and in sorrow–how divine in such companionship! in such overflowing and ineffable sense of bliss! There and then for the first time did Maltravers press upon that modest and blushing cheek the kiss of Love, of Hope,–the seal of a union he fondly hoped the grave itself could not dissolve!


_Queen_. Whereon do you look?
_Hamlet_. On him, on him,–look you how pale he glares!–_Hamlet_.

PERHAPS to Maltravers those few minutes which ensued, as they walked slowly on, compensated for all the troubles and cares of years; for natures like his feel joy even yet more intensely than sorrow. It might be that the transport, the delirium of passionate and grateful thoughts that he poured forth, when at last he could summon words, expressed feelings the young Evelyn could not comprehend, and which less delighted than terrified her with the new responsibility she had incurred. But love so honest, so generous, so intense, dazzled and bewildered and carried her whole soul away. Certainly at that hour she felt no regret–no thought but that one in whom she had so long recognized something nobler than is found in the common world was thus happy and thus made happy by a word, a look from her! Such a thought is woman’s dearest triumph; and one so thoroughly unselfish, so yielding, and so soft, could not be insensible to the rapture she had caused.

“And oh!” said Maltravers, as he clasped again and again the hand that he believed he had won forever, “now, at length, have I learned how beautiful is life! For this–for this I have been reserved! Heaven is merciful to me, and the waking world is brighter than all my dreams!”

He ceased abruptly. At that instant they were once more on the terrace where he had first joined Teresa, facing the wood, which was divided by a slight and low palisade from the spot where they stood. He ceased abruptly, for his eyes encountered a terrible and ominous apparition,–a form connected with dreary associations of fate and woe. The figure had raised itself upon a pile of firewood on the other side of the fence, and hence it seemed almost gigantic in its stature. It gazed upon the pair with eyes that burned with a preternatural blaze, and a voice which Maltravers too well remembered shrieked out “Love! love! What! _thou_ love again? Where is the Dead! Ha, ha! Where is the Dead?”

Evelyn, startled by the words, looked up, and clung in speechless terror to Maltravers. He remained rooted to the spot.

“Unhappy man,” said he, at length, and soothingly, “how came you hither? Fly not, you are with friends.”

“Friends!” said the maniac, with a scornful laugh. “I know thee, Ernest Maltravers,–I know thee: but it is not thou who hast locked me up in darkness and in hell, side by side with the mocking fiend! Friends! ah, but no Friends shall catch me now! I am free! I am free! Air and wave are not more free!” And the madman laughed with horrible glee. “She is fair–fair,” he said, abruptly checking himself, and with a changed voice, “but not so fair as the Dead. Faithless that thou art–and yet she loved _thee_! Woe to thee! woe! Maltravers, the perfidious! Woe to thee–and remorse–and shame!”

“Fear not, Evelyn,–fear not,” whispered Maltravers, gently, and placing her behind him; “support your courage,–nothing shall harm you.”

Evelyn, though very pale, and trembling from head to foot, retained her senses. Maltravers advanced towards the mad man. But no sooner did the quick eye of the last perceive the movement, than, with the fear which belongs to that dread disease,–the fear of losing liberty,–he turned, and with a loud cry fled into the wood. Maltravers leaped over the fence, and pursued him some way in vain. The thick copses of the wood snatched every trace of the fugitive from his eye.

Breathless and exhausted, Maltravers returned to the spot where he had left Evelyn. As he reached it, he saw Teresa and her husband approaching towards him, and Teresa’s merry laugh sounded clear and musical in the racy air. The sound appalled him; he hastened his steps to Evelyn.

“Say nothing of what we have seen to Madame de Montaigne, I beseech you,” said he; “I will explain why hereafter.”

Evelyn, too overcome to speak, nodded her acquiescence. They joined the De Montaignes, and Maltravers took the Frenchman aside.

But before he could address him, De Montaigne said,–

“Hush! do not alarm my wife–she knows nothing; but I have just heard at Paris, that–that he has escaped–you know whom I mean?”

“I do; he is at hand; send in search of him! I have seen him. Once more I have seen Castruccio Cesarini!”


“Woe, woe: all things are clear.”–SOPHOCLES: OEd. Tyr. 754.


THE privilege that statesmen ever claim, Who private interest never yet pursued, But still pretended ’twas for others’ good. . . . . . .
From hence on every humorous wind that veered With shifted sails a several course you steered. _Absalom and Achitophel_, Part ii.

LORD VARGRAVE had for more than a fortnight remained at the inn at M—–, too ill to be removed with safety in a season so severe. Even when at last, by easy stages, he reached London, he was subjected to a relapse; and his recovery was slow and gradual. Hitherto unused to sickness, he bore his confinement with extreme impatience; and against the commands of his physician insisted on continuing to transact his official business, and consult with his political friends in his sick-room; for Lumley knew well, that it is most pernicious to public men to be considered failing in health,–turkeys are not more unfeeling to a sick brother than politicians to an ailing statesman; they give out that his head is touched, and see paralysis and epilepsy in every speech and every despatch. The time, too, nearly ripe for his great schemes, made it doubly necessary that he should exert himself, and prevent being shelved with a plausible excuse of tender compassion for his infirmities. As soon therefore as he learned that Legard had left Paris, he thought himself safe for a while in that quarter, and surrendered his thoughts wholly to his ambitious projects. Perhaps, too, with the susceptible vanity of a middle-aged man, who has had his _bonnes fortunes_, Lumley deemed, with Rousseau, that a lover, pale and haggard–just raised from the bed of suffering–is more interesting to friendship than attractive to love. He and Rousseau were, I believe, both mistaken; but that is a matter of opinion: they both thought very coarsely of women,–one from having no sentiment, and the other from having a sentiment that was but a disease. At length, just as Lumley was sufficiently recovered to quit his house, to appear at his office, and declare that his illness had wonderfully improved his constitution, intelligence from Paris, the more startling from being wholly unexpected, reached him. From Caroline he learned that Maltravers had proposed to Evelyn, and been accepted. From Maltravers himself he heard the confirmation of the news. The last letter was short, but kind and manly. He addressed Lord Vargrave as Evelyn’s guardian; slightly alluded to the scruples he had entertained till Lord Vargrave’s suit was broken off; and feeling the subject too delicate for a letter, expressed a desire to confer with Lumley respecting Evelyn’s wishes as to certain arrangements in her property.

And for this was it that Lumley had toiled! for this had he visited Lisle Court! and for this had he been stricken down to the bed of pain! Was it only to make his old rival the purchaser, if he so pleased it, of the possessions of his own family? Lumley thought at that moment less of Evelyn than of Lisle Court. As he woke from the stupor and the first fit of rage into which these epistles cast him, the recollection of the story he had heard from Mr. Onslow flashed across him. Were his suspicions true, what a secret he would possess! How fate might yet befriend him! Not a moment was to be lost. Weak, suffering as he still was, he ordered his carriage, and hastened down to Mrs. Leslie.

In the interview that took place, he was careful not to alarm her into discretion. He managed the conference with his usual consummate dexterity. He did not appear to believe that there had been any actual connection between Alice and the supposed Butler. He began by simply asking whether Alice had ever, in early life, been acquainted with a person of that name, and when residing in the neighbourhood of —–. The change of countenance, the surprised start of Mrs. Leslie, convinced him that his suspicions were true.

“And why do you ask, my lord?” said the old lady. “Is it to ascertain this point that you have done me the honour to visit me?”

“Not exactly, my dear madam,” said Lumley, smiling. “But I am going to C—– on business; and besides that I wished to give an account of your health to Evelyn, whom I shall shortly see at Paris, I certainly did desire to know whether it would be any gratification to Lady Vargrave, for whom I have the deepest regard, to renew her acquaintance with the said Mr. Butler.”

“What does your lordship know of him? What is he; who is he?”

“Ah, my dear lady, you turn the tables on me, I see,–for my one question you would give me fifty. But, seriously, before I answer you, you must tell me whether Lady Vargrave does know a gentleman of that name; yet, indeed, to save trouble, I may as well inform you, that I know it was under that name that she resided at C—–, when my poor uncle first made her acquaintance. What I ought to ask is this,–supposing Mr. Butler be still alive, and a gentleman of character and fortune, would it please Lady Vargrave to meet with him once more?”

“I cannot tell you,” said Mrs. Leslie, sinking back in her chair, much embarrassed.

“Enough, I shall not stir further in the matter. Glad to see you looking so well. Fine place, beautiful trees. Any commands at C—–, or any message for Evelyn?”

Lumley rose to depart.

“Stay,” said Mrs. Leslie, recalling all the pining, restless, untiring love that Lady Vargrave had manifested towards the lost, and feeling that she ought not to sacrifice to slight scruples the chance of happiness for her friend’s future years,–“stay; I think this question you should address to Lady Vargrave,–or shall I?”

“As you will,–perhaps I had better write. Good-day,” and Vargrave hurried away.

He had satisfied himself, but he had another yet to satisfy,–and that, from certain reasons known but to himself, without bringing the third person in contact with Lady Vargrave. On arriving at C—– he wrote, therefore, to Lady Vargrave as follows:–

MY DEAR FRIEND,–Do not think me impertinent or intrusive–but you know me too well for that. A gentleman of the name of Butler is exceedingly anxious to ascertain if you once lived near —–, in a pretty little cottage,–Dove, or Dale, or Dell cottage (some such appellation),–and if you remember a person of his name. Should you care to give a reply to these queries, send me a line addressed to London, which I shall get on my way to Paris.

Yours most truly,


As soon as he had concluded, and despatched this letter, Vargrave wrote to Mr. Winsley as follows:–

MY DEAR SIR,–I am so unwell as to be unable to call on you, or even to see any one, however agreeable (nay, the more agreeable the more exciting!). I hope, however, to renew our personal acquaintance before quitting C—–. Meanwhile, oblige me with a line to say if I did not understand you to signify that you could, if necessary, prove that Lady Vargrave once resided in this town as Mrs. Butler, a very short time before she married my uncle, under the name of Cameron, in Devonshire; and had she not also at that time a little girl,–an infant, or nearly so,–who must necessarily be the young lady who is my uncle’s heiress, Miss Evelyn Cameron. My reason for thus troubling you is obvious. As Miss Cameron’s guardian, I have very shortly to wind up certain affairs connected with my uncle’s will; and, what is more, there is some property bequeathed by the late Mr. Butler, which may make it necessary to prove identity.

Truly yours,


The answer to the latter communication ran thus:–

“MY LORD,–I am very sorry to hear your lordship is so unwell, and will pay my respects to-morrow. I certainly can swear that the present Lady Vargrave was the Mrs. Butler who resided at C—–, and taught music. And as the child with her was of the same sex, and about the same age as Miss Cameron, there can, I should think, be no difficulty in establishing the identity between that young lady and the child Lady Vargrave had by her first husband, Mr. Butler; but of this, of course, I cannot speak.

“I have the honour, etc.”

The next morning Vargrave despatched a note to Mr. Winsley, saying that his health required him to return to town immediately,–and to town, in fact, he hastened. The day after his arrival, he received, in a hurried hand–strangely blurred and blotted, perhaps by tears–this short letter:–

For Heaven’s sake, tell me what you mean! Yes, yes, I did once reside at Dale Cottage, I did know one of the name of Butler! Has _he_ discovered the name _I_ bear? Where is he? I implore you to write, or let me see you before you leave England!


Lumley smiled triumphantly when he read and carefully put up this letter.

“I must now amuse and put her off–at all events for the present.”

In answer to Lady Vargrave’s letter, he wrote a few lines to say that he had only heard through a third person (a lawyer) of a Mr. Butler residing somewhere abroad, who had wished these inquiries to be made; that he believed it only related to some disposition of property; that, _perhaps_, the Mr. Butler who made the inquiry was heir to the Mr. Butler she had known; that he could learn nothing else at present, as the purport of her reply must be sent abroad,–the lawyer would or could say nothing more; that directly he received a further communication it should be despatched to her, that he was most affectionately and most truly hers.

The rest of that morning Vargrave devoted to Lord Saxingham and his allies; and declaring, and believing, that he should not be long absent at Paris, he took an early dinner, and was about once more to commit himself to the risks of travel, when, as he crossed the hall, Mr. Douce came hastily upon him.

“My lord–my lord–I must have a word with your l-l-lordship;–you are going to–that is–” (and the little man looked frightened) “you intend to–to go to–that is–ab-ab-ab–“

“Not abscond, Mr. Douce; come into the library: I am in a great hurry, but I have always time for _you_. What’s the matter?”

“Why, then, my lord,–I–I have heard nothing m-m-more from your lordship about the pur-pur–“

“Purchase?–I am going to Paris, to settle all particulars with Miss Cameron; tell the lawyers so.”

“May–may–we draw out the money to–to–show–that–that we are in earnest? Otherwise I fear–that is, I suspect–I mean I know, that Colonel Maltravers will be off the bargain.”

“Why, Mr. Douce, really I must just see my ward first; but you shall hear from me in a day or two;–and the ten thousand pounds I owe you!”

“Yes, indeed, the ten–ten–ten!–my partner is very–“

“Anxious for it, no doubt! My compliments to him. God bless you!–take care of yourself,–must be off to save the packet;” and Vargrave hurried away, muttering, “Heaven sends money, and the devil sends duns!”

Douce gasped like a fish for breath, as his eyes followed the rapid steps of Vargrave; and there was an angry scowl of disappointment on his small features. Lumley, by this time, seated in his carriage, and wrapped up in his cloak, had forgotten the creditor’s existence, and whispered to his aristocratic secretary, as he bent his head out of the carriage window, “I have told Lord Saxingham to despatch you to me, if there is any–the least–necessity for me in London. I leave you behind, Howard, because your sister being at court, and your cousin with our notable premier, you will find out every change in the wind–you understand. And, I say, Howard, don’t think I forget your kindness!–you know that no man ever served me in vain! Oh, there’s that horrid little Douce behind you,–tell them to drive on!”


HEARD you that?
What prodigy of horror is disclosing?–LILLO: _Fatal Curiosity_.

THE unhappy companion of Cesarini’s flight was soon discovered and recaptured; but all search for Cesarini himself proved ineffectual, not only in the neighbourhood of St. Cloud, but in the surrounding country and in Paris. The only comfort was in thinking that his watch would at least preserve him for some time from the horrors of want; and that by the sale of the trinket, he might be traced. The police, too, were set at work,–the vigilant police of Paris! Still day rolled on day, and no tidings. The secret of the escape was carefully concealed from Teresa; and public cares were a sufficient excuse for the gloom on De Montaigne’s brow.

Evelyn heard from Maltravers with mingled emotions of compassion, grief, and awe the gloomy tale connected with the history of the maniac. She wept for the fate of Florence; she shuddered at the curse that had fallen on Cesarini; and perhaps Maltravers grew dearer to her from the thought that there was so much in the memories of the past that needed a comforter and a soother.

They returned to Paris, affianced and plighted lovers; and then it was that Evelyn sought carefully and resolutely to banish from her mind all recollection, all regret, of the absent Legard: she felt the solemnity of the trust confided in her, and she resolved that no thought of hers should ever be of a nature to gall the generous and tender spirit that had confided its life of life to her care. The influence of Maltravers over her increased in their new and more familiar position, and yet still it partook too much of veneration, too little of passion; but that might be her innocence and youth. He, at least, was sensible of no want,–she had chosen him from the world; and fastidious as he deemed himself, he reposed, without a doubt, on the security of her faith. None of those presentiments which had haunted him when first betrothed to Florence disturbed him now. The affection of one so young and so guileless seemed to bring back to him all his own youth–we are ever young while the young can love us! Suddenly, too, the world took to his eyes a brighter and fairer aspect. Hope, born again, reconciled him to his career and to his race! The more he listened to Evelyn, the more he watched every evidence of her docile but generous nature, the more he felt assured that he had found at last a heart suited to his own. Her beautiful serenity of temper, cheerful, yet never fitful or unquiet, gladdened him with its insensible contagion. To be with Evelyn was like basking in the sunshine of some happy sky! It was an inexpressible charm to one wearied with “the hack sights and sounds” of this jaded world,–to watch the ever-fresh and sparkling the thoughts and fancies which came from a soul so new to life! It enchanted one, painfully fastidious in what relates to the true nobility of character, that, however various the themes discussed, no low or mean thought ever sullied those beautiful lips. It was not the mere innocence of inexperience, but the moral incapability of guile, that charmed him in the companion he had chosen on his path to Eternity! He was also delighted to notice Evelyn’s readiness of resources: she had that faculty, without which woman has no independence from the world, no pledge that domestic retirement will not soon languish into wearisome monotony,–the faculty of making trifles contribute to occupation or amusement; she was easily pleased, and yet she so soon reconciled herself to disappointment. He felt, and chid his own dulness for not feeling it before, that, young and surpassingly lovely as she was, she required no stimulant from the heated pursuits and the hollow admiration of the crowd.

“Such,” thought he, “are the natures that alone can preserve through years the poetry of the first passionate illusion, that can alone render wedlock the seal that confirms affection, and not the mocking ceremonial that vainly consecrates its grave!”

Maltravers, as we have seen, formally wrote to Lumley some days after their return to Paris. He would have written also to Lady Vargrave, but Evelyn thought it best to prepare her mother by a letter from herself.

Miss Cameron now wanted but a few weeks to the age of eighteen, at which she was to be the sole mistress of her own destiny. On arriving at that age the marriage was to take place. Valerie heard with sincere delight of the new engagement her friend had formed. She eagerly sought every opportunity to increase her intimacy with Evelyn, who was completely won by her graceful kindness; the result of Valerie’s examination was, that she did not wonder at the passionate love of Maltravers, but that her deep knowledge of the human heart (that knowledge so remarkable in the women of her country!) made her doubt how far it was adequately returned, how far Evelyn deceived herself. Her first satisfaction became mingled with anxiety, and she relied more for the future felicity of her friend on Evelyn’s purity of thought and general tenderness of heart than on the exclusiveness and ardour of her love. Alas! few at eighteen are not too young for the irrevocable step,–and Evelyn was younger than her years! One evening at Madame de Ventadour’s Maltravers asked Evelyn if she had yet heard from Lady Vargrave. Evelyn expressed her surprise that she had not, and the conversation fell, as was natural, upon Lady Vargrave herself. “Is she as fond of music as you are?” asked Maltravers.

“Yes, indeed, I think so–and of the songs of a certain person in particular; they always had for her an indescribable charm. Often have I heard her say that to read your writings was like talking to an early friend. Your name and genius seemed to make her solitary connection with the great world. Nay–but you will not be angry–I half think it was her enthusiasm, so strange and rare, that first taught me interest in yourself.”

“I have a double reason, then, for loving your mother,” said Maltravers, much pleased and flattered. “And does she not like Italian music?”

“Not much; she prefers some rather old-fashioned German airs, very simple, but very touching.”

“My own early passion,” said Maltravers, more and more interested.

“But there are also one or two English songs which I have occasionally, but very seldom, heard her sing. One in especial affects her so deeply, even when she plays the air, that I have always attached to it a certain mysterious sanctity. I should not like to sing it before a crowd, but to-morrow, when you call on me, and we are alone–“

“Ah, to-morrow I will not fail to remind you.”

Their conversation ceased; yet, somehow or other, that night when he retired to rest the recollection of it haunted Maltravers. He felt a vague, unaccountable curiosity respecting this secluded and solitary mother; all concerning her early fate seemed so wrapped in mystery. Cleveland, in reply to his letter, had informed him that all inquiries respecting the birth and first marriage of Lady Vargrave had failed. Evelyn evidently knew but little of either, and he felt a certain delicacy in pressing questions which might be ascribed to the inquisitiveness of a vulgar family pride. Moreover, lovers have so much to say to each other, that he had not time to talk at length to Evelyn about third persons. He slept ill that night,–dark and boding dreams disturbed his slumber. He rose late and dejected by presentiments he could not master: his morning meal was scarcely over, and he had already taken his hat to go to Evelyn’s for comfort and sunshine, when the door opened, and he was surprised by the entrance of Lord Vargrave.

Lumley seated himself with a formal gravity very unusual to him, and as if anxious to waive unnecessary explanations, began as follows, with a serious and impressive voice and aspect:–

“Maltravers, of late years we have been estranged from each other. I do not presume to dictate to you your friendships or your dislikes. Why this estrangement has happened you alone can determine. For my part I am conscious of no offence; that which I was I am still. It is you who have changed. Whether it be the difference of our political opinions, or any other and more secret cause, I know not. I lament, but it is now too late to attempt to remove it. If you suspect me of ever seeking, or even wishing, to sow dissension between yourself and my ill-fated cousin, now no more, you are mistaken. I ever sought the happiness and union of you both. And yet, Maltravers, you then came between me and an early and cherished dream. But I suffered in silence; my course was at least disinterested, perhaps generous: let it pass. A second time you cross my path,–you win from me a heart I had long learned to consider mine. You have no scruple of early friendship, you have no forbearance towards acknowledged and affianced ties. You are my rival with Evelyn Cameron, and your suit has prospered.”

“Vargrave,” said Maltravers, “you have spoken frankly; and I will reply with an equal candour. A difference of tastes, tempers, and opinions led us long since into opposite paths. I am one who cannot disunite public morality from private virtue. From motives best known to you, but which I say openly I hold to have been those of interest or ambition, you did not change your opinions (there is no sin in that), but retaining them in private, professed others in public, and played with the destinies of mankind as if they were but counters to mark a mercenary game. This led me to examine your character with more searching eyes; and I found it one I could no longer trust. With respect to the Dead, let the pall drop over that early grave,–I acquit you of all blame. He who sinned has suffered more than would atone the crime! You charge me with my love to Evelyn. Pardon me, but I seduced no affection, I have broken no tie. Not till she was free in heart and in hand to choose between us, did I hint at love. Let me think that a way may be found to soften one portion at least of the disappointment you cannot but feel acutely.”

“Stay!” said Lord Vargrave (who, plunged in a gloomy revery, had scarcely seemed to hear the last few sentences of his rival): “stay, Maltravers. Speak not of love to Evelyn! A horrible foreboding tells me that, a few hours hence, you would rather pluck out your tongue by the roots than couple the words of love with the thought of that unfortunate girl! Oh, if I were vindictive, what awful triumph would await me now! What retaliation on your harsh judgment, your cold contempt, your momentary and wretched victory over me! Heaven is my witness, that my only sentiment is that of terror and woe! Maltravers, in your earliest youth, did you form connection with one whom they called Alice Darvil?”

“Alice! merciful Heaven! what of her?”

“Did you never know that the Christian name of Evelyn’s mother is Alice?”

“I never asked, I never knew; but it is a common name,” faltered Maltravers.

“Listen to me,” resumed Vargrave: “with Alice Darvil you lived in the neighbourhood of —–, did you not?”

“Go on, go on!”

“You took the name of Butler; by that name Alice Darvil was afterwards known in the town in which my uncle resided–there are gaps in the history that I cannot of my own knowledge fill up,–she taught music; my uncle became enamoured of her, but he was vain and worldly. She removed into Devonshire, and he married her there, under the name of Cameron, by which name he hoped to conceal from the world the lowness of her origin, and the humble calling she had followed. Hold! do not interrupt me. Alice had one daughter, as was supposed, by a former marriage; that daughter was the offspring of him whose name she bore–yes, of the false Butler!–that daughter is Evelyn Cameron!”

“Liar! devil!” cried Maltravers, springing to his feet, as if a shot had pierced his heart. “Proofs! proofs!”

“Will these suffice?” said Vargrave, as he drew forth the letters of Winsley and Lady Vargrave. Maltravers took them, but it was some moments before he could dare to read. He supported himself with difficulty from falling to the ground; there was a gurgle in his throat like the sound of the death-rattle; at last he read, and dropped the letters from his hand.

“Wait me here,” he said very faintly, and moved mechanically to the door.

“Hold!” said Lord Vargrave, laying his hand upon Ernest’s arm. “Listen to me for Evelyn’s sake, for her mother’s. You are about to seek Evelyn,–be it so! I know that you possess the god-like gift of self-control. You will not suffer her to learn that her mother has done that which dishonours alike mother and child? You will not consummate your wrong to Alice Darvil by robbing her of the fruit of a life of penitence and remorse? You will not unveil her shame to her own daughter? Convince yourself, and master yourself while you do so!”

“Fear me not,” said Maltravers, with a terrible smile; “I will not afflict my conscience with a double curse. As I have sowed, so must I reap. Wait me here!”


. . . MISERY
That gathers force each moment as it rolls, And must, at last, o’erwhelm me.–LILLO: _Fatal Curiosity_.

MALTRAVERS found Evelyn alone; she turned towards him with her usual sweet smile of welcome; but the smile vanished at once, as her eyes met his changed and working countenance; cold drops stood upon the rigid and marble brow, the lips writhed as if in bodily torture, the muscles of the face had fallen, and there was a wildness which appalled her in the fixed and feverish brightness of the eyes.

“You are ill, Ernest,–dear Ernest, you are ill,–your look freezes me!”

“Nay, Evelyn,” said Maltravers, recovering himself by one of those efforts of which men who have _suffered without sympathy_ are alone capable,–“nay, I am better now; I have been ill–very ill–but I am better!”

“Ill! and I not know of it?” She attempted to take his hand as she spoke. Maltravers recoiled.

“It is fire! it burns! Avaunt!” he cried, frantically. “O Heaven! spare me, spare me!”

Evelyn was not seriously alarmed; she gazed on him with the tenderest compassion. Was this one of those moody and overwhelming paroxysms to which it had been whispered abroad that he was subject? Strange as it may seem, despite her terror, he was dearer to her in that hour–as she believed, of gloom and darkness–than in all the glory of his majestic intellect, or all the blandishments of his soft address.

“What has happened to you?” she said, approaching him again; “have you seen Lord Vargrave? I know that he has arrived, for his servant has been here to say so; has he uttered anything to distress you? or has–” (she added falteringly and timidly)–“has poor Evelyn offended you? Speak to me,–only speak!”

Maltravers turned, and his face was now calm and serene save by its extreme and almost ghastly paleness, no trace of the hell within him could be discovered.

“Pardon me,” said he, gently, “I know not this morning what I say or do; think not of it, think not of me,–it will pass away when I hear your voice.”

“Shall I sing to you the words I spoke of last night? See, I have them ready; I know them by heart, but I thought you might like to read them, they are so full of simple but deep feeling.”

Maltravers took the song from her hands, and bent over the paper; at first, the letters seemed dim and indistinct, for there was a mist before his eyes; but at last a chord of memory was struck,–he recalled the words: they were some of those he had composed for Alice in the first days of their delicious intercourse,–links of the golden chain, in which he had sought to bind the spirit of knowledge to that of love.

“And from whom,” said he, in a faint voice, as he calmly put down the verses,–“from whom did your mother learn these words?”

“I know not; some dear friend, years ago, composed and gave them to her. It must have been one very dear to her, to judge by the effect they still produce.”

“Think you,” said Maltravers, in a hollow voice, “think you IT WAS YOUR FATHER?”

“My father! She never speaks of him! I have been early taught to shun all allusion to his memory. My father!–it is probable; yes, it may have been my father; whom else could she have loved so fondly?”

There was a long silence; Evelyn was the first to break it.

“I have heard from my mother to-day, Ernest; her letter alarms me,–I scarce know why!”

“Ah! and how–“

“It is hurried and incoherent,–almost wild: she says she has learned some intelligence that has unsettled and unstrung her mind; she has requested me to inquire if any one I am acquainted with has heard of, or met abroad, some person of the name of Butler. You start!–have you known one of that name?”

“I!–did your mother never allude to that name before?”

“Never!–and yet, once I remember–“


That I was reading an account in the papers of the sudden death of some Mr. Butler; and her agitation made a powerful and strange impression upon me,–in fact, she fainted, and seemed almost delirious when she recovered; she would not rest till I had completed the account, and when I came to the particulars of his age, etc. (he was old, I think) she clasped her hands, and wept; but they seemed tears of joy. The name is so common–whom of that name have you known?”

“It is no matter. Is that your mother’s letter; is that her handwriting?”

“Yes;” and Evelyn gave the letter to Maltravers. He glanced over the characters; he had once or twice seen Lady Vargrave’s handwriting before, and had recognized no likeness between that handwriting and such early specimens of Alice’s art as he had witnessed so many years ago; but now, “trifles light as air” had grown “confirmation strong as proof of Holy Writ,”–he thought he detected Alice in every line of the hurried and blotted scroll; and when his eye rested on the words, “Your affectionate MOTHER, _Alice_!” his blood curdled in his veins.

“It is strange!” said he, still struggling for self-composure; “strange that I never thought of asking her name before! Alice! her name is Alice?”

“A sweet name, is it not? It accords so well with her simple character–how you would love her!”

As she said this, Evelyn turned to Maltravers with enthusiasm, and again she was startled by his aspect; for again it was haggard, distorted, and convulsed.

“Oh, if you love me,” she cried, “do send immediately for advice! And yet; is it illness, Ernest, or is it some grief that you hide from me?”

“It is illness, Evelyn,” said Maltravers, rising: and his knees knocked together. “I am not fit even for your companionship,–I will go home.”

“And send instantly for advice?”

“Ay; it waits me there already.”

“Thank Heaven! and you will write to me one little word–to relieve me? I am so uneasy!”

“I will write to you.”

“This evening?”


“Now go,–I will not detain you.”

He walked slowly to the door, but when he reached it he turned, and catching her anxious gaze, he opened his arms; overpowered with strange fear and affectionate sympathy, she burst into passionate tears; and surprised out of the timidity and reserve which had hitherto characterized her pure and meek attachment to him, she fell on his breast, and sobbed aloud. Maltravers raised his hands, and, placing them solemnly on her young head, his lips muttered as if in prayer. He paused, and strained her to his heart; but he shunned that parting kiss, which, hitherto, he had so fondly sought. That embrace was one of agony, and not of rapture; and yet Evelyn dreamed not that he designed it for the last!

Maltravers re-entered the room in which he had left Lord Vargrave, who still awaited his return.

He walked up to Lumley, and held out his hand. “You have saved me from a dreadful crime,–from an everlasting remorse. I thank you!”

Hardened and frigid as his nature was, Lumley was touched; the movement of Maltravers took him by surprise. “It has been a dreadful duty, Ernest,” said he, pressing the hand he held; “but to come, too, from _me_,–your rival!”

“Proceed, proceed, I pray you; explain all this–yet explanation! what do I want to know? Evelyn is my daughter,–Alice’s child! For Heaven’s sake, give me hope; say it is not so; say that she is Alice’s child, but not _mine_! Father! father!–and they call it a holy name–it is a horrible one!”

“Compose yourself, my dear friend: recollect what you have escaped! You will recover this shock. Time, travel–“

“Peace, man,–peace! Now then I am calm! When Alice left me she had no child. I knew not that she bore within her the pledge of our ill-omened and erring love. Verily, the sins of my youth have arisen against me; and the curse has come home to roost!”

“I cannot explain to you all details.”

“But why not have told me of this? Why not have warned me; why not have said to me, when my heart could have been satisfied by so sweet a tie, ‘Thou hast a daughter: thou art not desolate’? Why reserve the knowledge of the blessing until it has turned to poison? Fiend that you are! you have waited this hour to gloat over the agony from which a word from you a year, nay, a month ago–a little month ago–might have saved me and her!”

Maltravers, as he spoke, approached Vargrave, with eyes sparkling with fierce passion, his hand clenched, his form dilated, the veins on his forehead swelled like cords. Lumley, brave as he was, recoiled.

“I knew not of this secret,” said he, deprecatingly, “till a few days before I came hither; and I came hither at once to disclose it to you. Will you listen to me? I knew that my uncle had married a person much beneath him in rank; but he was guarded and cautious, and I knew no more, except that by a first husband that lady had one daughter,–Evelyn. A chain of accidents suddenly acquainted me with the rest.”

Here Vargrave pretty faithfully repeated what he had learned from the brewer at C—–, and from Mr. Onslow; but when he came to the tacit confirmation of all his suspicions received from Mrs. Leslie, he greatly exaggerated and greatly distorted the account. “Judge, then,” concluded Lumley, “of the horror with which I heard that you had declared an attachment to Evelyn, and that it was returned. Ill as I was, I hastened hither: you know the rest. Are you satisfied?”

“I will go to Alice! I will learn from her own lips–yet, how can I meet her again? How say to her, ‘I have taken from thee thy last hope,–I have broken thy child’s heart’?”

“Forgive me, but I should confess to you, that, from all I can learn from Mrs. Leslie, Lady Vargrave has but one prayer, one hope in life,–that she may never again meet with her betrayer. You may, indeed, in her own letter perceive how much she is terrified by the thought of your discovering her. She has, at length, recovered peace of mind and tranquillity of conscience. She shrinks with dread from the prospect of ever again encountering one once so dear, now associated in her mind with recollections of guilt and sorrow. More than this, she is sensitively alive to the fear of shame, to the dread of detection. If ever her daughter were to know her sin, it would be to her as a death-blow. Yet in her nervous state of health, her ever-quick and uncontrollable feelings, if you were to meet her, she would disguise nothing, conceal nothing. The veil would be torn aside: the menials in her own house would tell the tale, and curiosity circulate, and scandal blacken the story of her early errors. No, Maltravers, at least wait awhile before you see her; wait till her mind can be prepared for such an interview, till precautions can be taken, till you yourself are in a calmer state of mind.”

Maltravers fixed his piercing eyes on Lumley while he thus spoke, and listened in deep attention.

“It matters not,” said he, after a long pause, “whether these be your real reasons for wishing to defer or prevent a meeting between Alice and myself. The affliction that has come upon me bursts with too clear and scorching a blaze of light for me to see any chance of escape or mitigation. Even if Evelyn were the daughter of Alice by another, she would be forever separated from me. The mother and the child! there is a kind of incest even in that thought! But such an alleviation of my anguish is forbidden to my reason. No, poor Alice, I will not disturb the repose thou hast won at last! Thou shalt never have the grief to know that our error has brought upon thy lover so black a doom! All is over! the world never shall find me again. Nothing is left for me but the desert and the grave!”

“Speak not so, Ernest,” said Lord Vargrave, soothingly; “a little while, and you will recover this blow: your control over passion has, even in youth, inspired me with admiration and surprise; and now, in calmer years, and with such incentives to self-mastery, your triumph will come sooner than you think. Evelyn, too, is so young; she has not known you long; perhaps her love, after all, is that caused by some mystic, but innocent working of nature, and she would rejoice to call you ‘father.’ Happy years are yet in store for you.”

Maltravers did not listen to these vain and hollow consolations. With his head drooping on his bosom, his whole form unnerved, the large tears rolling unheeded down his cheeks, he seemed the very picture of a broken-hearted man, whom fate never again could raise from despair. He, who had, for years, so cased himself in pride, on whose very front was engraved the victory over passion and misfortune, whose step had trod the earth in the royalty of the conqueror; the veriest slave that crawls bore not a spirit more humbled, fallen, or subdued! He who had looked with haughty eyes on the infirmities of others, who had disdained to serve his race because of their human follies and partial frailties,–_he_, even _he_, the Pharisee of Genius,–had but escaped by a chance, and by the hand of the man he suspected and despised, from a crime at which nature herself recoils,–which all law, social and divine, stigmatizes as inexpiable, which the sternest imagination of the very heathen had invented as the gloomiest catastrophe that can befall the wisdom and the pride of mortals! But one step farther, and the fabulous OEdipus had not been more accursed!

Such thoughts as these, unformed, confused, but strong enough to bow him to the dust, passed through the mind of this wretched man. He had been familiar with grief, he had been dull to enjoyment; sad and bitter memories had consumed his manhood: but pride had been left him still; and he had dared in his secret heart to say, “I can defy Fate!” Now the bolt had fallen; Pride was shattered into fragments, Self-abasement was his companion, Shame sat upon his prostrate soul. The Future had no hope left in store. Nothing was left for him but to die!

Lord Vargrave gazed at him in real pain, in sincere compassion; for his nature, wily, deceitful, perfidious though it was, had cruelty only so far as was necessary to the unrelenting execution of his schemes. No pity could swerve him from a purpose; but he had enough of the man within him to feel pity not the less, even for his own victim! At length Maltravers lifted his head, and waved his hand gently to Lord Vargrave.

“All is now explained,” said he, in a feeble voice; “our interview is over. I must be alone; I have yet to collect my reason, to commune calmly and deliberately with myself; I have to write to her–to invent, to lie,–I, who believed I could never, never utter, even to an enemy, what was false! And I must not soften the blow to her. I must not utter a word of love,–love, it is incest! I must endeavour brutally to crush out the very affection I created! She must hate me!–oh, _teach_ her to hate me! Blacken my name, traduce my motives,–let her believe them levity or perfidy, what you will. So will she forget me the sooner; so will she the easier bear the sorrow which the father brings upon the child. And _she_ has not sinned! O Heaven, the sin was mine! Let my punishment be a sacrifice that Thou wilt accept for her!”

Lord Vargrave attempted again to console; but this time the words died upon his lips. His arts failed him. Maltravers turned impatiently away and pointed to the door.

“I will see you again,” said he, “before I quit Paris; leave your address below.”

Vargrave was not, perhaps, unwilling to terminate a scene so painful: he muttered a few incoherent words, and abruptly withdrew. He heard the door locked behind him as he departed. Ernest Maltravers was alone!–what a solitude!


PITY me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold.–_Hamlet_.



All that you have read of faithlessness and perfidy will seem tame to you when compared with that conduct which you are doomed to meet from me. We must part, and for ever. We have seen each other for the last time. It is bootless even to ask the cause. Believe that I am fickle, false, heartless,–that a whim has changed me, if you will. My resolve is unalterable. We meet no more even as friends. I do not ask you either to forgive or to remember me. Look on me as one wholly unworthy even of resentment! Do not think that I write this in madness or in fever or excitement. Judge me not by my seeming illness this morning. I invent no excuse, no extenuation, for my broken faith and perjured vows. Calmly, coldly, and deliberately I write; and thus writing, I renounce your love.

This language is wanton cruelty,–it is fiendish insult,–is it not, Evelyn? Am I not a villain? Are you not grateful for your escape? Do you not look on the past with a shudder at the precipice on which you stood?

I have done with this subject,–I turn to another. We are parted, Evelyn, and forever. Do not fancy,–I repeat, do not fancy that there is any error, any strange infatuation on my mind, that there is any possibility that the sentence can be annulled. It were almost easier to call the dead from the grave than bring us again together, as we were and as we hoped to be. Now that you are convinced of that truth, learn, as soon as you have recovered the first shock of knowing how much wickedness there is on earth,–learn to turn to the future for happier and more suitable ties than those you could have formed with me. You are very young; in youth our first impressions are lively but evanescent,–you will wonder hereafter at having fancied you loved me. Another and a fairer image will replace mine. This is what I desire and pray for. _As soon as I learn that you love another, that you are wedded to another, I will re-appear in the world; till then, I am a wanderer and an exile. Your hand alone can efface from my brow the brand of Cain!_ When I am gone, Lord Vargrave will probably renew his suit. I would rather you married one of your own years,–one whom you could love fondly, one who would chase away every remembrance of the wretch who now forsakes you. But perhaps I have mistaken Lord Vargrave’s character; perhaps he may be worthier of you than I deemed (_I_ who set up for the censor of other men!); perhaps he may both win and deserve your affection.

Evelyn, farewell! God, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, will watch over you!



OUR acts our angels are, or good or ill, The fatal shadows that walk by us still.–JOHN FLETCHER.

THE next morning came; the carriage was at the door of Maltravers, to bear him away he cared not whither. Where could he fly from memory? He had just despatched the letter to Evelyn,–a letter studiously written for the object of destroying all the affection to which he had so fondly looked as the last charm of life. He was now only waiting for Vargrave, to whom he had sent, and who hastened to obey the summons.

When Lumley arrived, he was shocked at the alteration which a single night had effected in the appearance of Maltravers; but he was surprised and relieved to find him calm and self-possessed.

“Vargrave,” said Maltravers, “whatever our past coldness, henceforth I owe to you an eternal gratitude; and henceforth this awful secret makes between us an indissoluble bond. If I have understood you rightly, neither Alice nor other living being than yourself know that in me, Ernest Maltravers, stands the guilty object of Alice’s first love. Let that secret still be kept; relieve Alice’s mind from the apprehension of learning that the man who betrayed her yet lives: he will not live long! I leave time and method of explanation to your own judgment and acuteness. Now for Evelyn.” Here Maltravers stated generally the tone of the letter he had written. Vargrave listened thoughtfully.

“Maltravers,” said he, “it is right to try first the effect of your letter. But if it fail, if it only serve to inflame the imagination and excite the interest, if Evelyn still continue to love you, if that love preys upon her, if it should undermine health and spirit, if it should destroy her?”

Maltravers groaned. Lumley proceeded: “I say this not to wound you, but to provide against all circumstances. I too have spent the night in revolving what is best to be done in such a case; and this is the plan I have formed. Let us, if need be, tell the truth to Evelyn, robbing the truth only of its shame. Nay, nay, listen. Why not say that under a borrowed name and in the romance of early youth you knew and loved Alice (though in innocence and honour)? Your tender age, the difference of rank, forbade your union. Her father, discovering your clandestine correspondence, suddenly removed her from the country, and destroyed all clew for your inquiries. You lost sight of each other,–each was taught to believe the other dead. Alice was compelled by her father to marry Mr. Cameron; and after his death, her poverty and her love for her only child induced her to accept my uncle. You have now learned all,–have learned that Evelyn is the daughter of your first love, the daughter of one who adores you still, and whose life your remembrance has for so many years embittered. Evelyn herself will at once comprehend all the scruples of a delicate mind; Evelyn herself will recoil from the thought of making the child the rival to the mother. She will understand why you have flown from her; she will sympathize with your struggles; she will recall the constant melancholy of Alice; she will hope that the ancient love may be renewed, and efface all grief; Generosity and Duty alike will urge her to conquer her own affection! And hereafter, when time has restored you both, father and child may meet with such sentiments as father and child may own!”

Maltravers was silent for some minutes; at length he said abruptly, “And you really loved her, Vargrave,–you love her still? Your dearest care must be her welfare.”

“It is! indeed, it is!”

“Then I must trust to your discretion; I can have no other confidant; I myself am not fit to judge. My mind is darkened–you may be right–I think so.”

“One word more,–she may discredit my tale, if unsupported. Will you write one line to me to say that I am authorized to reveal the secret, and that it is known only to me? I will not use it unless I should think it absolutely required.”

Hastily and mechanically Maltravers wrote a few words to the effect of what Lumley had suggested. “I will inform you,” he said to Vargrave as he gave him the paper, “of whatever spot may become my asylum; and you can communicate to me all that I dread and long to hear; but let no man know the refuge of despair!”

There was positively a tear in Vargrave’s cold eye,–the only tear that had glistened there for many years; he paused irresolute, then advanced, again halted, muttered to himself, and turned aside.

“As for the world,” Lumley resumed, after a pause, “your engagement has been public,–some public account of its breach must be invented. You have always been considered a proud man; we will say that it was low birth on the side of both mother and father (the last only just discovered) that broke off the alliance!”

Vargrave was talking to the deaf; what cared Maltravers for the world? He hastened from the room, threw himself into his carriage, and Vargrave was left to plot, to hope, and to aspire.


“A dream!”–HOMER, I, 3.


QUALIS ubi in lucem coluber
. . . Mala gramina pastus.*–VIRGIL.

Pars minima est ipsa puella sui.**–OVID.

* “As when a snake glides into light, having fed on pernicious pastures.”

** “The girl is the least part of himself.”

IT would be superfluous, and, perhaps, a sickening task, to detail at length the mode and manner in which Vargrave coiled his snares round the unfortunate girl whom his destiny had marked out for his prey. He was right in foreseeing that, after the first amazement caused by the letter of Maltravers, Evelyn would feel resentment crushed beneath her certainty of his affection her incredulity at his self-accusations, and her secret conviction that some reverse, some misfortune he was unwilling she should share, was the occasion of his farewell and flight. Vargrave therefore very soon communicated to Evelyn the tale he had suggested to Maltravers. He reminded her of the habitual sorrow, the evidence of which was so visible in Lady Vargrave; of her indifference to the pleasures of the world; of her sensitive shrinking from all recurrence to her early fate. “The secret of this,” said he, “is in a youthful and most fervent attachment; your mother loved a young stranger above her in rank, who (his head being full of German romance) was then roaming about the country on pedestrian and adventurous excursions, under the assumed name of Butler. By him she was most ardently beloved in return. Her father, perhaps, suspected the rank of her lover, and was fearful of her honour being compromised. He was a strange man, that father! and I know not his real character and motives; but he suddenly withdrew his daughter from the suit and search of her lover,–they saw each other no more; her lover mourned her as one dead. In process of time your mother was constrained by her father to marry Mr. Cameron, and was left a widow with an only child,–yourself: she was poor;–very poor! and her love and anxiety for you at last induced her to listen to the addresses of my late uncle; for your sake she married again; again death dissolved the tie! But still, unceasingly and faithfully, she recalled that first love, the memory of which darkened and embittered all her life, and still she lived upon the hope to meet with the lost again. At last, and most recently, it was my fate to discover that the object of this unconquerable affection lived,–was still free in hand if not in heart: you behold the lover of your mother in Ernest Maltravers! It devolved on me (an invidious–a reluctant duty) to inform Maltravers of the identity of Lady Vargrave with the Alice of his boyish passion; to prove to him her suffering, patient, unsubdued affection; to convince him that the sole hope left to her in life was that of one day or other beholding him once again. You know Maltravers,–his high-wrought, sensitive, noble character; he recoiled in terror from the thought of making his love to the daughter the last and bitterest affliction to the mother he had so loved; knowing too how completely that mother had entwined herself round your affections, he shuddered at the pain and self-reproach that would be yours when you should discover to whom you had been the rival, and whose the fond hopes and dreams that your fatal beauty had destroyed. Tortured, despairing, and half beside himself, he has fled from this ill-omened passion, and in solitude he now seeks to subdue that passion. Touched by the woe, the grief, of the Alice of his youth, it is his intention, as soon as he can know you restored to happiness and content, to hasten to your mother, and offer his future devotion as the fulfilment of former vows. On you, and you alone, it depends to restore Maltravers to the world,–on you alone it depends to bless the remaining years of the mother who so dearly loves you!”

It may be easily conceived with what sensations of wonder, compassion, and dismay, Evelyn listened to this tale, the progress of which her exclamations, her sobs, often interrupted. She would write instantly to her mother, to Maltravers. Oh, how gladly she would relinquish his suit: How cheerfully promise to rejoice in that desertion which brought happiness to the mother she had so loved!

“Nay,” said Vargrave, “your mother must not know, till the intelligence can be breathed by his lips, and softened by his protestations of returning affection, that the mysterious object of her early romance is that Maltravers whose vows have been so lately offered to her own child. Would not such intelligence shock all pride, and destroy all hope? How could she then consent to the sacrifice which Maltravers is prepared to make? No! not till you are another’s–not (to use the words of Maltravers) till you are a happy and beloved wife–must your mother receive the returning homage of Maltravers; not till then can she know where that homage has been recently rendered; not till then can Maltravers feel justified in the atonement he meditates. He is willing to sacrifice himself; he trembles at the thought of sacrificing you! Say nothing to your mother, till from her own lips she tells you that she has learned all.”

Could Evelyn hesitate; could Evelyn doubt? To allay the fears, to fulfil the prayers of the man whose conduct appeared so generous, to restore him to peace and the world; above all, to pluck from the heart of that beloved and gentle mother the rankling dart, to shed happiness over her fate, to reunite her with the loved and lost,–what sacrifice too great for this?

Ah, why was Legard absent? Why did she believe him capricious, light, and false? Why had she shut her softest thoughts from her soul? But he–the true lover–was afar, and his true love unknown! and Vargrave, the watchful serpent, was at hand.

In a fatal hour, and in the transport of that enthusiasm which inspires alike our more rash and our more sublime deeds, which makes us alike dupes and martyrs,–the enthusiasm that tramples upon self, that forfeits all things to a high-wrought zeal for others, Evelyn consented to become the wife of Vargrave! Nor was she at first sensible of the sacrifice,–sensible of anything but the glow of a noble spirit and an approving conscience. Yes, thus, and thus alone, did she obey both duties,–that, which she had well-nigh abandoned, to her dead benefactor, and that to the living mother. Afterwards came a dread reaction; and then, at last, that passive and sleep-like resignation, which is Despair under a milder name. Yes,–such a lot had been predestined from the first; in vain had she sought to fly it: Fate had overtaken her, and she must submit to the decree!

She was most anxious that the intelligence of the new bond might be transmitted instantly to Maltravers. Vargrave promised, but took care not to perform. He was too acute not to know that in so sudden a step Evelyn’s motives would be apparent, and his own suit indelicate and ungenerous. He was desirous that Maltravers should learn nothing till the vows had been spoken, and the indissoluble chain forged. Afraid to leave Evelyn, even for a day, afraid to trust her in England to an interview with her mother,–he remained at Paris, and hurried on all the requisite preparations. He sent to Douce, who came in person, with the deeds necessary for the transfer of the money for the purchase of Lisle Court, which was now to be immediately completed. The money was to be lodged in Mr. Douce’s bank till the lawyers had completed their operations; and in a few weeks, when Evelyn had attained the allotted age, Vargrave trusted to see himself lord alike of the betrothed bride, and the hereditary lands of the crushed Maltravers. He refrained from stating to Evelyn who was the present proprietor of the estate to become hers; he foresaw all the objections she would form;–and, indeed, she was unable to think, to talk, of such matters. One favour she had asked, and it had been granted,–that she was to be left unmolested to her solitude till the fatal day. Shut up in her lonely room, condemned not to confide her thoughts, to seek for sympathy even in her mother,–the poor girl in vain endeavoured to keep up to the tenor of her first enthusiasm, and reconcile herself to a step, which, however, she was heroine enough not to retract or to repent, even while she recoiled from its contemplation.

Lady Doltimore, amazed at what had passed,–at the flight of Maltravers, the success of Lumley,–unable to account for it, to extort explanation from Vargrave or from Evelyn, was distracted by the fear of some villanous deceit which she could not fathom. To escape herself she plunged yet more eagerly into the gay vortex. Vargrave, suspicious, and fearful of trusting to what she might say in her nervous and excited temper if removed from his watchful eye, deemed himself compelled to hover round her. His manner, his conduct, were most guarded; but Caroline herself, jealous, irritated, unsettled, evinced at times a right both to familiarity and anger, which drew upon her and himself the sly vigilance of slander. Meanwhile Lord Doltimore, though too cold and proud openly to notice what passed around him, seemed disturbed and anxious. His manner to Vargrave was distant; he shunned all _tete-a-tetes_ with his wife. Little, however, of this did Lumley heed. A few weeks more, and all would be well and safe. Vargrave did not publish his engagement with Evelyn: he sought carefully to conceal it till the very day was near at hand; but it was whispered abroad; some laughed, some believed. Evelyn herself was seen nowhere. De Montaigne had, at first, been indignantly incredulous at the report that Maltravers had broken off a connection he had so desired from a motive so weak and unworthy as that of mere family pride. A letter from Maltravers, who confided to him and Vargrave alone the secret of his retreat, reluctantly convinced him that the wise are but pompous fools; he was angry and disgusted; and still more so when Valerie and Teresa (for female friends stand by us right or wrong) hinted at excuses, or surmised that other causes lurked behind the one alleged. But his thoughts were much drawn from this subject by increasing anxiety for Cesarini, whose abode and fate still remained an alarming mystery.

It so happened that Lord Doltimore, who had always had a taste for the antique, and who was greatly displeased with his own family-seat because it was comfortable and modern, fell, from _ennui_, into a habit, fashionable enough in Paris, of buying curiosities and cabinets,– high-back chairs and oak-carvings; and with this habit returned the desire and the affection for Burleigh. Understanding from Lumley that Maltravers had probably left his native land forever, he imagined it extremely probable that the latter would now consent to the sale, and he begged Vargrave to forward a letter from him to that effect.

Vargrave made some excuse, for he felt that nothing could be more indelicate than such an application forwarded through his hands at such a time; and Doltimore, who had accidentally heard De Montaigne confess that he knew the address of Maltravers, quietly sent his letter to the Frenchman, and, without mentioning its contents, begged him to forward it. De Montaigne did so. Now it is very strange how slight men and slight incidents bear on the great events of life; but that simple letter was instrumental to a new revolution in the strange history of Maltravers.


QUID frustra simulacra fugacia captas?– Quod petis est nusquam.*–OVID: _Met._ iii. 432.

* “Why, in vain, do you catch at fleeting shadows? That which you seek is nowhere.”

TO no clime dedicated to the indulgence of majestic griefs or to the soft melancholy of regret–not to thy glaciers, or thy dark-blue lakes, beautiful Switzerland, mother of many exiles; nor to thy fairer earth and gentler heaven, sweet Italy,–fled the agonized Maltravers. Once, in his wanderings, he had chanced to pass by a landscape so steeped in sullen and desolate gloom, that it had made a powerful and uneffaced impression upon his mind: it was amidst those swamps and morasses that formerly surrounded the castle of Gil de Retz, the ambitious Lord, the dreaded Necromancer, who perished at the stake, after a career of such power and splendour as seemed almost to justify the dark belief in his preternatural agencies.*

* See, for description of this scenery, and the fate of De Retz, the high-wrought and glowing romance by Mr. Ritchie called “The Magician.”

Here, in a lonely and wretched inn, remote from other habitations, Maltravers fixed himself. In gentler griefs there is a sort of luxury in bodily discomfort; in his inexorable and unmitigated anguish, bodily discomfort was not felt. There is a kind of magnetism in extreme woe, by which the body itself seems laid asleep, and knows no distinction between the bed of Damiens and the rose-couch of the Sybarite. He left his carriage and servants at a post-house some miles distant. He came to this dreary abode alone; and in that wintry season, and that most disconsolate scene, his gloomy soul found something congenial, something that did not mock him, in the frowns of the haggard and dismal Nature. Vain would it be to describe what he then felt, what he then endured. Suffice it that, through all, the diviner strength of man was not wholly crushed, and that daily, nightly, hourly, he prayed to the Great Comforter to assist him in wrestling against a guilty love. No man struggles so honestly, so ardently as he did, utterly in vain; for in us all, if we would but cherish it, there is a spirit that must rise at last–a crowned, if bleeding conqueror–over Fate and all the Demons!

One day after a prolonged silence from Vargrave, whose letters all breathed comfort and assurance in Evelyn’s progressive recovery of spirit and hope, his messenger returned from the post-town with a letter in the hand of De Montaigne. It contained, in a blank envelope (De Montaigne’s silence told him how much he had lost in the esteem of his friend), the communication of Lord Doltimore. It ran thus:–

MY DEAR SIR,–As I hear that your plans are likely to make you a long resident on the Continent, may I again inquire if you would be induced to dispose of Burleigh? I am willing to give more than its real value, and would raise a mortgage on my own property sufficient to pay off, at once, the whole purchase-money. Perhaps you may be the more induced to the sale from the circumstance of having an example in the head of your family, Colonel Maltravers, as I learn through Lord Vargrave, having resolved to dispose of Lisle Court. Waiting your answer,

I am, dear Sir, truly yours,


“Ay,” said Maltravers, bitterly, crushing the letter in his hand, “let our name be blotted out from the land, and our hearths pass to the stranger. How could I ever visit the place where I first saw _her_?”

He resolved at once,–he would write to England, and place the matter in the hands of agents. This was but a short-lived diversion to his thoughts, and their cloudy darkness soon gathered round him again.

What I am now about to relate may appear, to a hasty criticism, to savour of the Supernatural; but it is easily accounted for by ordinary agencies, and it is strictly to the letter of the truth.

In his sleep that night a dream appeared to Maltravers. He thought he was alone in the old library at Burleigh, and gazing on the portrait of his mother; as he so gazed, he fancied that a cold and awful tremor seized upon him, that he in vain endeavoured to withdraw his eyes from the canvas–his sight was chained there by an irresistible spell. Then it seemed to him that the portrait gradually changed,–the features the same, but the bloom vanished into a white and ghastly hue; the colours of the dress faded, their fashion grew more large and flowing, but heavy and rigid as if cut in stone,–the robes of the grave. But on the face there was a soft and melancholy smile, that took from its livid aspect the natural horror; the lips moved, and, it seemed as if without a sound, the released soul spoke to that which the earth yet owned.

“Return,” it said, “to thy native land, and thine own home. Leave not the last relic of her who bore and yet watches over thee to stranger hands. Thy good Angel shall meet thee at thy hearth!”

The voice ceased. With a violent effort Maltravers broke the spell that had forbidden his utterance. He called aloud, and the dream vanished: he was broad awake, his hair erect, the cold dews on his brow. The pallet, rather than bed on which he lay, was opposite to the window, and the wintry moonlight streamed wan and spectral into the cheerless room. But between himself and the light there seemed to stand a shape, a shadow, that into which the portrait had changed in his dream,–that which had