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It was a considerable time before she revived, but, when her recollection returned, she repulsed his attentions with an air of reserve, and inquired, with as much displeasure as it was possible she could feel in these first moments of his appearance, the occasion of his visit.
Ah, Emily! said Valancourt, that air, those words-alas! I have, then, little to hope-when you ceased to esteem me, you ceased also to love me!
Most true, sir, replied Emily, endeavouring to command her trembling voice; and if you had valued my esteem, you would not have given me this new occasion for uneasiness.
Valancourt's countenance changed suddenly from the anxieties of doubt to an expression of surprise and dismay; he was silent a moment, and then said, I had been taught to hope for a very different reception! Is it then true, Emily, that I have lost your regard for ever? Am I to believe, that though your esteem for me may return-you affection never can? Can the Count have meditated the cruelty which now tortures me with a second death?
The voice in which he spoke this, alarmed Emily as much as his words surprised her, and with trembling impatience she begged that he would explain them.
Can any explanation be necessary? said Valancourt; do you not know how cruelly my conduct has been misrepresented? that the actions of which you once believed me guilty, (and 0, Emily! how could you so degrade me in your opinion, even for a moment!) those actions-I hold in as much contempt and abhorrence as yourself? Are you indeed ignorant, that Count de Villefort has detected the slanders that have robbed me of all I hold dear on earth, and has invited me hither to justify to you my former conduct? It is surely impossible you can be uninformed of these circumstances, and I am again torturing myself with a false hope!
The silence of Emily confirmed this supposition; for the deep twilight would not allow Valancourt to distinguish the astonishment and doubting joy that fixed her features. For a moment she continued unable to speak; then a profound sigh seemed to give some relief to her spirits, and she said,
Valancourt! I was till this moment ignorant of all the circumstances you have mentioned; the emotion I now suffer may assure you of the truth of this, and that though I had ceased to esteem, I had not taught myself entirely to forget you.
This moment, said Valancourt, in a low voice, and leaning for support against the windowthis moment brings with it a conviction that overpowers me !—I am dear to you, then-still dear to you, my Emily!
Is it necessary that I should tell you so? she replied, is it necessary that I should say these are the first moments of joy I have known since
your departure, and that they repay me for all those of pain I have suffered in the interval?
Valancourt sighed deeply, and was unable to reply; but, as he pressed her hand to his lips, the tears that fell over it spoke a language which could not be mistaken, and to which words were inadequate.
Emily, somewhat tranquillized, proposed returning to the chateau, and then, for the first time, recollected that the Count had invited Valancourt thither to explain his conduct, and that no explanation had yet been given. But while she acknowledged this, her heart would not allow her to dwell for a moment on the pos◄ sibility of his unworthiness; his look, his voice, his manner, all spoke the noble sincerity which had formerly distinguished him; and she again permitted herself to indulge the emotions of a joy more surprising and powerful than she had ever before experienced.
Neither Emily or Valancourt were conscious how they reached the chateau, whither they might have been transferred by the spell of a fairy, for anything they could remember; and it was not till they had reached the great hall that either of them recollected there were other persons in the world besides themselves. The Count then came forth with surprise, and with the joyfulness of pure benevolence, to welcome Valancourt, and to entreat his forgiveness of the injustice he had done him; soon after which Mons. Bonnac joined this happy group, in which he and Valancourt were mutually rejoiced to
When the first congratulations were over, and the general joy became somewhat more tranquil, the Count withdrew with Valancourt to the library, where a long conversation passed between them, in which the latter so clearly justified himself of the criminal parts of the conduct imputed to him, and so candidly confessed and so feelingly lamented the follies which he had committed, that the Count was confirmed in the belief of all he had hoped ; and, while he perceived so many noble virtues in Valancourt, and that experience had taught him to detest the follies which before he had only not admired, he did not scruple to believe, that he would pass through life with the dignity of a wise and good man, or to intrust to his care the future happiness of Emily St Aubert, for whom he felt the solicitude of a parent. Of this he soon informed her, in a short conversation, when Valancourt had left him. While Emily listened to relation of the services that Valancourt had rendered Mons. Bonnac, her eyes overflowed with tears of pleasure, and the farther conversation of Count de Villefort perfectly dissipated every doubt, as to the past and future conduct of him, to whom she now restored, without fear, the esteem and affection with which she had formerly received him.
When they returned to the supper-room, the
Countess and Lady Blanche met Valancourt with sincere congratulations; and Blanche, indeed, was so much rejoiced to see Emily returned to happiness, as to forget, for a while, that Mons. St Foix was not yet arrived at the chateau, though he had been expected for some hours; but her generous sympathy was soon after rewarded by his appearance. He was now perfectly recovered from the wounds received during his perilous adventure among the Pyrenées, the mention of which served to heighten to the parties who had been involved in it, the sense of their present happiness. New congratulations passed between them, and round the supper-table appeared a group of faces, smiling with felicity, but with a felicity which had in each a different character. The smile of Blanche was frank and gay, that of Emily tender and pensive; Valancourt's was rapturous, tender, and gay, alternately; Mons. St Foix's was joyous; and that of the Count, as he looked on the surrounding party, expressed the tempered complacency of benevolence; while the features of the Countess, Henri, and Mons. Bonnac, discovered fainter traces of animation. Poor Mons. Du Pont did not, by his presence, throw a shade of regret over the company; for, when he had discovered that Valancourt was not unworthy of the esteem of Emily, he determined seriously to endeavour at the conquest of his own hopeless affection, and had immediately withdrawn from Chateau-le-Blanc-a conduct which Emily now understood, and rewarded with her admiration and pity.
The Count and his guests continued together till a late hour, yielding to the delights of social gaiety, and to the sweets of friendship. When Annette heard of the arrival of Valancourt, Ludovico had some difficulty to prevent her going into the supper-room to express her joy, for she declared that she had never been so rejoiced at any accident as this, since she had found Ludovico himself.
there were displayed the wild solemnities of incantation, and the necromantic feats exhibited by the magician Jarl, before the emperor. The sumptuous banners of the family of Villeroi, which had long slept in dust, were once more unfurled, to wave over the Gothic points of painted casements; and music echoed, in many a lingering close, through every winding gallery and colonnade of that vast edifice.
As Annette looked down from the corridor upon the hall, whose arches and windows were illuminated with brilliant festoons of lamps, and gazed on the splendid dresses of the dancers, the costly liveries of the attendants, the canopies of purple velvet and gold, and listened to the gay strains that floated along the vaulted roof, she almost fancied herself in an enchanted palace, and declared, that she had not met with any place, which charmed her so much, since she read the fairy tales; nay, that the fairies themselves, at their nightly revels in this old hall, could display nothing finer; while old Dorothée, as she surveyed the scene, sighed, and said, the castle looked as it was wont to do in the time of her youth.
After gracing the festivities of Chateau-leBlanc for some days, Valancourt and Emily took leave of their kind friends, and returned to La Vallée, where the faithful Theresa received them with unfeigned joy, and the pleasant shades welcomed them with a thousand tender and affecting remembrances; and while they wandered together over the scenes so long inhabited by the late Mons. and Madame St Aubert, and Emily pointed out with pensive affection their favourite haunts, her present happiness was heightened by considering, that it would have been worthy of their approbation, could they have witnessed it.
Valancourt led her to the plane-tree on the terrace, where he had first ventured to declare his love, and where now the remembrance of the anxiety he had then suffered, and the retrospect of all the dangers and misfortunes they had each encountered, since last they sat together beneath its broad branches, exalted the sense of their present felicity, which, on this spot, sacred to the memory of St Aubert, they solemnly vowed to deserve, as far as possible, by endeavouring to imitate his benevolence,by remembering, that superior attainments of every sort bring with them duties of superior exertion, and, by affording to their fellowbeings, together with that portion of ordinary comforts which prosperity always owes to misfortune, the example of lives passed in happy thankfulness to God, and, therefore, in careful tenderness to his creatures.
Soon after their return to La Vallée, the brother of Valancourt came to congratulate him on his marriage, and to pay his respects to Emily, with whom he was so much pleased, as well as with the prospect of rational happiness,
which these nuptials offered to Valancourt, that he immediately resigned to him a part of the rich domain, the whole of which, as he had no family, would, of course, descend to his brother, on his decease.
The estates at Thoulouse were disposed of, and Emily purchased of Mons. Quesnel the ancient domain of her late father, where, having given Annette a marriage portion, she settled her as the housekeeper, and Ludovico as the steward; but, since both Valancourt and herself preferred the pleasant and long-loved shades of La Vallée to the magnificence of Epourville, they continued to reside there, passing, however, a few months in the year at the birth-place of St Aubert, in tender respect to his memory.
The legacy which had been bequeathed to Emily by Signora Laurentini, she begged Valancourt would allow her to resign to Mons. Bonnac; and Valancourt, when she made the request, felt all the value of the compliment it conveyed. The Castle of Udolpho, also, descended to the wife of Mons. Bonnac, who was the nearest surviving relation of the house of that name, and thus affluence restored his long oppressed spirits to peace, and his family to comfort.
O! how joyful it is to tell of happiness, such as that of Valancourt and Emily; to relate, that, after suffering under the oppression of the vicious, and the disdain of the weak, they were, at length, restored to each other-to the beloved landscapes of their native country-to the securest felicity of this life, that of aspiring to moral and labouring for intellectual improvement-to the pleasures of enlightened society, and to the exercise of the benevolence which had always animated their hearts; while the bowers of La Vallée became, once more, the retreat of goodness, wisdom, and domestic blessedness!
O! useful may it be to have shewn, that though the vicious can sometimes pour affliction upon the good, their power is transient and their punishment certain; and that innocence, though oppressed by injustice, shall, supported by patience, finally triumph over misfortune!
And if the weak hand that has recorded this tale, has, by its scenes, beguiled the mourner of one hour of sorrow, or, by its moral, taught him to sustain it-the effort, however humble, has not been vain, nor is the writer unrewarded.
END OF THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO.