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rd, is not for me; my life has been marked th_vice, and my death with the bitterness of itless remorse. I have understood virtue, but have loved vice. I do not now lament that I a punished, but that I have deserved punishent.-The Baron sunk on his couch, and in a w moments after expired in a strong sigh. hus terminated the life of a man, whose unrstanding might have reached the happiness · virtue, but whose actions displayed the feares of vice.
From this melancholy scene, the Baroness, ith the Count and Laura, retired to her apart ent, where the Earl awaited their return with nxious solicitude. The sternness of justice for moment relaxed when he heard of Malcolm's eath; his heart would have sighed with comassion, had not the remembrance of his father rossed his mind, and checked the impulse.-I an now, madam, said he, addressing the Baoness, restore you a part of those possessions which were once your lord's, and which ought o have been the inheritance of your son; this castle from henceforth is yours; I resign it to ts lawful owner. The Baroness was overcome with the remembrance of his services, and could =carcely thank him but with her tears. The servant whom the Baron had mentioned as the confidant of his iniquities, was sent for, and interrogated concerning the infant he had charge of. From him, however, little comfort was received; for he could only tell, that he had conveyed the child, by the orders of his master, to a cottage on the farthest borders of his estates, where he had delivered it to the care of a woman, who there lived with her husband. These people received, at the same time, a sum of money for its support, with a promise of future supplies. That for some years he had been punctual in the payment of the sums intrusted to him by the Baron, but at length he yielded to the temptation of withholding them for his own use; and on inquiring for the people some years after, he found they were gone from the place. The conditions of the Baroness's pardon to the man, depended on his endeavours to repair the injury he had promoted, by a strict search for the people to whom he had committed her child. She now consulted with her friends on the best means to be pursued in this business, and immediately sent off messengers to different parts of the country to gather information.
The Baroness was now released from oppression and imprisonment; she was reinstated in her ancient possessions, to which were added all the hereditary lands of Malcolm, together with his personal fortune: she was surrounded by those whom she most loved, and in the midst of a people who loved her; yet the consequence of the Baron's guilt had left in her heart one drop of gall which embittered each source of happiness, and made her life melancholy and painful.
The Count was now her visitor; she was much consoled by his presence; and Laura's hours were often enlivened by the conversation of the Earl, to whom her heart was tenderly attached, and whose frequent visits to the castle were devoted to love and her.
The felicity of Matilda now appeared as perfect and as permanent as is consistent with the nature of sublunary beings. Justice was done to the memory of her lord, and her beloved son was spared to bless the evening of her days. The father of Laura had ever been friendly to the house of Athlin, and her delicacy felt no repugnance to the union which Osbert solicited. But her happiness, whatever it might appear, was incomplete; she saw the settled melancholy of Mary, for love still corroded her heart, and, notwithstanding her efforts, shaded her aspect. The Countess wished to produce those nuptials with the Count, which she thought would re-establish the peace of her child, and insure her future felicity. She omitted no opportunity of pressing his suit, which she managed with a delicacy that rendered it less painful to Mary; whose words, however, were few in reply, and who could seldom bear the subject to be long continued. Her settled aversion to the addresses of the Count, at length baffled the expectations of Matilda, and shewed her the fallacy of her efforts. She thought it improper to suffer the Count any longer to nourish in his heart a vain hope; and she reluctantly commissioned the arl to undeceive him on his point.
With the Baroness, month after month still elapsed in fruitless search of her son; the people with whom he had been placed were nowhere to be found, and no track was discovered which might lead to the truth. The distress of the Baroness can only be imagined; she resigned herself in calm despair to mourn in silence, the easy confidence which had intrusted her child to the care of those who had betrayed him. Though happiness was denied her, she was unwilling to withhold it from those whom it awaited; and at length yielded to the entreaties of the Earl, and became his advocate with Laura, for the nuptials which were to unite their fate.
The Earl introduced the Countess and Mary to the castle of Dunbayne. Similarity of sentiment and disposition united Matilda and the Baroness in a lasting friendship. Mary and Laura were not less pleased with each other. The dejection of the Count at sight of Mary, declared the ardour of his passion, and would have awakened in her breast something more than compassion, had not her heart been preoccupied. Alleyn, who could think of Mary only, wandered through the castle of Athlin a solitary being, who fondly haunts the spot where his happiness lies buried. His prudence formed resolutions which his passion as quickly broke; and cheated by love, though followed
by despair, he delayed his departure from day to day, and the illusion of yesterday continued to be the illusion of the morrow. The Earl, attached to his virtues, and grateful for his services, would have bestowed on him every honour but that alone which could give him happiness, and which his pride would have suffered him to accept. Yet the honours which he refused, he refused with a grace so modest, as to conciliate kindness rather than wound generosity.
In a gallery, on the north side of the castle, which was filled with pictures of the family, hung a portrait of Mary. She was drawn in the dress which she wore on the day of the festival, when she was led by the Earl into the hall, and presented as the partner of Alleyn. The likeness was striking, and expressive of all the winning grace of the original. As often as Alleyn could steal from observation, he retired to this gallery to contemplate the portrait of her who was ever present to his imagination: here he could breathe that sigh which her presence restrained, and shed those tears which her presence forbade to flow. As he stood one day in this place, wrapt in melancholy musing, his ear was struck with the notes of sweet music; they seemed to issue from the bottom of the gallery. The instrument was touched with an exquisite expression; and in a voice whose tones floated on the air in soft undulations, he distinguished the following words, which he remembered to be an ode composed by the Earl, and presented to Mary, who had set it to music the day before.
DARKNESS! through thy chilling glooms
She comes in her ethereal car,
Involved in many a varying hue; And through the azure shoots afar Spirit-light-and life anew!
Her breath revives the drooping flowers, Her ray dissolves the dews of night; Recalls the sprightly-moving hours,
And the green scene unveils in light!
Hers the fresh gale that wanders wild
O'er mountain top, and woodland glade; And fondly steals the breath, beguiled,
Of every flower in every shade.
Mother of roses!-bright Aurora !-hail!
Thee shall the chorus of the hours salute, And song of early birds from ev'ry vale,
And blithesome horn, and fragrant zephyr mute!
And oft, as, rising o'er the plain,
Thou and thy roseate Nymphs appear, This simple song, in choral strain, From rapturing Bards shall meet thine ta
Dance ye lightly-lightly on!
Entranced in the sweet sounds, he had p ceeded some steps down the gallery, whet music ceased. He stopped. After a short pa it returned, and as he advanced he distingas ed these words, sung in a low voice, mournfu... sweet:
In solitude I mourn thy reign,
The voice was broken, and lost in sobs; the chords of the lute were wildly struck; and in few moments silence ensued. He stepped towards the spot whence the sounds had ceeded; and through a door, which was open, he discovered Mary hanging over her la dissolved in tears. He stood for some momers absorbed in mute admiration, and unobserved by Mary, who was lost in her tears, till a s which escaped him, recalled her to reality; she raised her eyes, and beheld the object of he secret sorrows. She arose in confusion; the blush on her cheek betrayed her heart; she was retiring in haste from Alleyn, who remained at the entrance of the room the statue of despair, when she was intercepted by the Earl, who entered by the door she was opening; her eyes were red with weeping; he glanced on her & look of surprise and displeasure, and passed on to the gallery, followed by Alleyn, who was now awakened from his trance. From you, Alleyn, said the Earl, in a tone of displeasure, I ex pected other conduct; on your word I relied, and your word has deceived me.-Hear me, my lord, returned the youth: your confidence I have never abused; hear me.—I have now no time for parley, replied Osbert, my moments are precious; some future hour of leisure may suffice. So saying, he walked away with an abrupt haughtiness, which touched the soul of Alleyn, who disdained to pursue him with further explanation. He was now completely wretched. The same accident which had unveiled to him the heart of Mary, and the full extent of that happiness which fate withheld, confirmed him in despair. The same accident had exposed the delicacy of her he loved to a cruel shock, and had subjected his honour to suspicion; and to a severe rebuke from him, by whom it was his pride to be respected, and for whose safety he had suffered imprisonment, and encountered death.
Mary had quitted the closet distressed and perplexed. She perceived the mistake of the Earl, and it shocked her. She wished to undeceive him, but he was gone to the castle of Dunbayne, to pay one of those visits which were soon to conclude in the nuptials, and whence he did not return till evening. The scene which he had witnessed in the morning, involved him in a tumult of distress. He considered the mutual passion which filled the bosom of his sister and Alleyn; he had surprised them in a solitary apartment; he had observed the tender and melancholy air of Alleyn, and the tears and confusion of Mary ; and he at first did not hesitate to believe that the interview had been appointed. In the heat of his displeasure he had rejected the explanation of Alleyn with a haughty resentment, which the late scene alone could have excited, and which the delusion it had occasioned alone could excuse. Cooler consideration, however, brought to his mind the delicacy and the amiable pride of Mary, and the integrity of Alleyn; and he accused himself of a too hasty decision. The zealous services of Alleyn came to his heart; he repented that he had treated him so rigorously; and on his return inquired for him, that he might soften the asperity of his former behaviour.
ALLEYN was nowhere to be found. The Earl went himself in quest of him, but without success. As he returned from the terrace, chagrined and disappointed, he observed two persons cross the platform at some distance before him; and he could perceive by the dim moonlight which fell upon the spot, that they were not of the castle. He called to them; no answer was returned; but at the sound of his voice they quickened their pace, and almost instantly disappeared in the darkness of the ramparts. Surprised at this phenomenon, the Earl followed with hasty steps, and endeavoured to pursue the way they had taken. He walked on silently, but there was no sound to direct his steps. When he came to the extremity of the rampart, which formed the north angle of the castle, he stopped to examine the spot, and to listen if anything was stirring. No person was to be seen, and all was hushed. After he had stood some time surveying the rampart, he heard the low restrained voice of a person unknown; but the distance prevented his distinguishing the subject of the conversation. The voice seemed to approach the place where he stood. He drew his sword, and watched in silence their motions. They continued to advance, till, suddenly stopping, they turned, and took a long survey of the fabric. Their discourse was conducted in a low tone; but the Earl could discover, by the vehemence
of their gesture, and the caution of their steps, that they were upon some design dangerous to the peace of the castle. Having finished their examination, they turned again towards the place where the Earl still remained: the shade of a high turret concealed him from their view, and they continued to approach till they arrived within a short space of him, when they turned through a ruined arch-way of the castle, and were lost in the dark recesses of the pile. Astonished at what he had seen, Osbert hastened to the castle, whence he dispatched some of his people in search of the unknown fugitives; he accompanied some of his domestics to the spot where they had last disappeared. They entered the arch-way, which led to a decayed part of the castle; they followed over broken pavement the remains of a passage, which was closed by a low obscure door, almost concealed from sight by the thick ivy which overshadowed it. On opening this door, they descended a flight of steps which led under the pile, so extremely narrow and broken as to make the descent both difficult and dangerous. The powerful damps of longpent-up vapours extinguished their light, and the Earl and his attendants were compelled to remain in utter darkness, while one of them went round to the habitable part of the castle to relume the lamp. While they awaited in silence the return of light, a short breathing was distinctly heard at intervals near the place where they stood. The servants shook with fear, and the Earl was not wholly unmoved. They remained entirely silent, listening its return, when a sound of footsteps slowly stealing through the vault startled them. The Earl demanded who passed ;-he was answered only by the deep echoes of his voice. They clashed their swords and had advanced, when the steps hastily retired before them. The Earl rushed forward, pursuing the sound, till overtaking the person who fled, he seized him ; a short scuffle ensued ; the strength of Osbert was too powerful for his antagonist, who was nearly overcome, when the point of a sword from an unknown hand pierced his side; he relinquished his grasp, and fell to the ground. His domestics, whom the activity of their master had outrun, now came up; but the assassins, whoever they were, had accomplished their escape, for the sound of their steps was quickly lost in the distance of the vaults. They endeavoured to raise the Earl, who lay speechless on the ground; but they knew not how to convey him from that place of horror, for they were yet in total darkness, and unacquainted with the place. In this situation every moment of delay appeared an age. Some of them tried to grope their way to the entrance, but their efforts were defeated by the darkness and the ruinous situation of the place. The light at length appeared, and discovered the Earl insensible, and weltering in his blood. He was conveyed into the castle, where the horror
of the Countess on seeing him borne into the hall may be easily imagined. By the help of proper applications he was restored to life; his wound was examined and found to be dangerous; and he was carried to bed in a state which gave very faint hopes of recovery. The astonishment of the Countess on hearing the adventure was equalled only by her distress. All her conjectures concerning the designs and the identity of the assassin were vague and uncertain. She knew not on whom to fix the stigma; nor could discover any means by which to penetrate this mysterious affair. The people who had remained in the vaults to pursue the search, now returned to Matilda. Every recess of the castle, and every part of the ramparts, had been explored, yet no one could be found; and the mystery of the proceeding was heightened by the manner in which the men had effected their escape.
Mary watched over her brother in silent anguish, yet she strove to conceal her distress, that she might encourage the Countess to hope. The Countess endeavoured to resign herself to the event with a kind of desperate fortitude. There is a certain point of misery beyond which the mind becomes callous, and acquires a sort of artificial calm. Excess of misery may be said to blast the vital powers of feeling, and by a natural consequence consumes its own principle. Thus it was with Matilda: a long succession of trials had reduced her to a state of horrid tranquillity, which followed the first shock of the present event. It was not so with Laura; young in misfortune, and gay in hope, she saw happiness fade from her grasp with a warmth of feeling untouched by the chill of disappointment. When the news of the Earl's situation reached her, she was overcome with affliction, and pined in silent anguish. The Count hastened to Osbert, but grief sat heavy at his heart, and he had no power to offer to others the comfort which he wanted himself.
A fever, which was the consequence of his wounds, added to the danger of the Earl, and to the despair of his family. During this period, Alleyn had not been seen at the castle; and his absence at this time raised in Mary a variety of distressing apprehensions. Osbert inquired for him, and wished to see him. The servant who had been sent to his father's cottage, brought word that it was some days since he had been there, and that nobody, knew whither he was gone. The surprise was universal, but the effect it produced was various and opposite. A collection of strange and concomitant circumstances now forced a suspicion on the mind of the Countess, which her heart, and her remembrance of the former conduct of Alleyn, at once condemned. She had heard of what passed between the Earl and him in the gallery; his immediate absence, the event which followed, and his subsequent flight, formed a chain of evidence
which compelled her, with the utmost reluctance. to believe him concerned in the affair which hai once more involved her house in misery. Mary had too much confidence in her knowledge e his character to admit a suspicion of this nature. She rejected with instant disdain the idea of uniting Alleyn with dishonour; and that he should be guilty of an action so base as the present, soared beyond all the bounds of possibility. Yet she felt a strange solicitude concerning him, and apprehensions for his safety tormented her incessantly. The anguish in which he had quitted the apartment, her brother's injurious treatment, and his consequent absence, all conspired to make her fear that despair bad driva him to commit some act of violence on himself.
The Earl, in the delirium of the fever, nved continually of Laura and of Alleyn; they were the sole subjects of his ramblings. Suzing one day the hand of Mary, who sat mournfully by his bed-side, and looking for some time pensively on her face, Weep not, my Lanra, said he; Malcolm, nor all the powers on earth, shall tear you from me; his walls-his guards—what are they? I'll wrest you from his hold, or perish. I have a friend whose valour will do much for us ;—a friend-0! name him not; these are strange times; beware of trusting. I could have given him my very life
but not-I will not name him. Then starting to the other side of the bed, and looking earnestly towards the door with an expression of sor. row not to be described, Not all the miseries which my worst enemy has heaped upon me; not all the horrors of imprisonment and death, have ever touched my soul with a sting so sharp as thy unfaithfulness.-Mary was so much shocked by this scene, that she left the room, and retired to her own apartment to indulge the agony of grief it occasioned.
The situation of the Earl grew daily more alarming; and the fever, which had not yet reached its crisis, kept the hopes and fears of his family suspended. In one of his lucid intervals, addressing himself to the Countess in the most pathetic manner, he requested, that, as death might probably soon separate him for ever from her he most loved, he might see Laura once again before he died. She came, and, weeping over him, a scene of anguish ensued too poignant for description. He gave her his last vows; she took of him a last look; and with a breaking heart tearing herself away, was carried to Dun bayne in a state of danger little inferior to his.
The agitation he had suffered during this interview, caused a return of frenzy more violent than any fit he had yet suffered; exhausted by it, he at length sunk into a sleep, which continued without interruption for near four-andtwenty hours. During this time his repose was quiet and profound, and afforded the Countess and Mary, who watched over him alternately, the consolations of hope. When he awoke he
The joy of Laura, whose health gradually returned with returning peace, and that of his family, was such as the merits of the Earl deserved. This joy, however, suffered a short interruption from the Count of Santmorin, who, entering one morning the apartment of the Baroness, with letters in his hand, came to acquaint her that he had just received news of the death of a distant relation, who had bequeathed him some estates of value, to which it was necessary he should immediately lay claim; and that he was therefore obliged, however reluctantly, to set off for Switzerland without delay. Though the Baroness rejoiced with all his friends at his good fortune, she regretted with them the necessity of his abrupt departure. He took leave of them, and particularly of Mary, for whom ..his passion was still the same, with much emotion; and it was some time ere the space he had left in their society was filled up, and ere they resumed their wonted cheerfulness.
was perfectly sensible, and in a very altered state from that he had been in a few hours before. The crisis of the disorder was now past, and from that time it rapidly declined till he was restored to perfect health.
Preparations were now making for the approaching nuptials, and the day of their celebration was at length fixed. The ceremony was to be performed in a chapel belonging to the castle of Dunbayne, by the chaplain of the Baroness. Mary only was to attend as bride- maid; and the Countess also, with the Baroness was to be present. The absence of the Count was universally regretted; and from his hand the Earl was to have received his bride. The office was now to be supplied by a neighbouring laird, whom the family of the Baroness had long esteemed. At the earnest request of Laura, Mary consented to spend the night preceding the day of marriage at the castle of Dunbayne.
The day so long and so anxiously expected by the Earl at length arrived. The morning was extremely fine, and the joy which glowed in his heart gave additional splendour to the scene around him. He set off, accompanied by the Countess, for the castle of Dunbayne. He anticipated the joy with which he should soon retrace the way he then travelled, with Laura by his side, whom death alone could then separate from him. On their arrival they were received by the Baroness, who inquired for Mary; and C the Countess and Oshert were thrown into the utmost consternation when they learned that she had not been seen at the castle. The nuptials were again deferred; the castle was a scene of universal confusion. The Earl returned home instantly, to dispatch his people in search of Mary. On inquiry, he learned that the servants who had attended her had not been heard of since their departure with their lady. Still more alarmed by this intelligence, he rode himself in pursuit, yet not knowing which course to take.
Several days were employed in a fruitless search; no footstep of her flight could be traced.
MARY, in the meantime, suffered all the terror which her situation could excite. On her way to Dunbayne she had been overtaken by a party of armed men, who seized her bridle, and, after engaging her servants in a feigned resistance, carried her off senseless. On recovering, she found herself travelling through a forest, whose glooms were deepened by the shades of night. The moon, which was now up, glancing through the trees, served to shew the dreary aspect of the place, and the number of men who surrounded her; and she was seized with terror that almost deprived her of reason. They travelled all night, during which a profound silence was observed. At the dawn of day she found herself on the skirts of a heath, to whose wide desolation her eye could discover no limits. Before they entered on the waste, they halted at the entrance of a cave, formed in a rock, which was overhung with pine and fir; where, spreading their breakfast on the grass, they offered refreshments to Mary, whose mind was too much distracted to suffer her to partake of them. She implored them, in the most moving accents, to tell her from whom they came, and whither they were carrying her; but they were insensible to her tears and her entreaties, and she was compelled to await in silent terror the extremity of her fate. They pursued their journey over the wilds, and towards the close of day approached the ruins of an abbey, whose broken arches and lonely towers arose in gloomy grandeur through the obscurity of evening. It stood the solitary inhabitant of the wastes,-a monument of mortality and of ancient superstition, and the frowning majesty of its aspect seemed to command silence and veneration. The chilly dews fell thick, and Mary, fatigued in body, and harassed in mind, lay almost expiring on her horse, when they stopped under an arch of the ruin. She was not so ill as to be insensible to the objects around her; the awful solitude of the place, and the solemn aspect of the fabric, whose effect was heightened by the falling glooms of evening, chilled her heart with horror; and when they took her from the horse, she shrieked in the agonies of a last despair. They bore her over loose stones to a part of the building which had been formerly the cloisters of the abbey, but which was now fallen to decay, and overgrown with ivy. There was, however, at the extremity of these cloisters a nook, which had withstood with hardier strength the ravages of time, the roof was here entire, and the shattered stanchions of the casements still remained. Hither they carried Mary, and laid her almost lifeless