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Chapter 14

  • > Call up him, that left half told The story of Cambuscan bold.
  • >
  • > MILTON
  • On the following morning, as Emily sat in the parlour adjoining the library, reflecting on the scene of the preceding night, Annette rushed wildly into th_oom, and, without speaking, sunk breathless into a chair. It was some tim_efore she could answer the anxious enquiries of Emily, as to the occasion o_er emotion, but, at length, she exclaimed, 'I have seen his ghost, madam, _ave seen his ghost!'
  • 'Who do you mean?' said Emily, with extreme impatience.
  • 'It came in from the hall, madam,' continued Annette, 'as I was crossing t_he parlour.'
  • 'Who are you speaking of?' repeated Emily, 'Who came in from the hall?
  • 'It was dressed just as I have seen him, often and often,' added Annette. 'Ah!
  • who could have thought—'
  • Emily's patience was now exhausted, and she was reprimanding her for such idl_ancies, when a servant entered the room, and informed her, that a strange_ithout begged leave to speak with her.
  • It immediately occurred to Emily, that this stranger was Valancourt, and sh_old the servant to inform him, that she was engaged, and could not see an_erson.
  • The servant, having delivered his message, returned with one from th_tranger, urging the first request, and saying, that he had something o_onsequence to communicate; while Annette, who had hitherto sat silent an_mazed, now started up, and crying, 'It is Ludovico!—it is Ludovico!' ran ou_f the room. Emily bade the servant follow her, and, if it really wa_udovico, to shew him into the parlour.
  • In a few minutes, Ludovico appeared, accompanied by Annette, who, as jo_endered her forgetful of all rules of decorum towards her mistress, would no_uffer any person to be heard, for some time, but herself. Emily expresse_urprise and satisfaction, on seeing Ludovico in safety, and the firs_motions increased, when he delivered letters from Count De Villefort and th_ady Blanche, informing her of their late adventure, and of their presen_ituation at an inn among the Pyrenees, where they had been detained by th_llness of Mons. St. Foix, and the indisposition of Blanche, who added, tha_he Baron St. Foix was just arrived to attend his son to his chateau, where h_ould remain till the perfect recovery of his wounds, and then return t_anguedoc, but that her father and herself purposed to be at La Vallee, on th_ollowing day. She added, that Emily's presence would be expected at th_pproaching nuptials, and begged she would be prepared to proceed, in a fe_ays to Chateau-le- Blanc. For an account of Ludovico's adventure, sh_eferred her to himself; and Emily, though much interested, concerning th_eans, by which he had disappeared from the north apartments, had th_orbearance to suspend the gratification of her curiosity, till he had take_ome refreshment, and had conversed with Annette, whose joy, on seeing him i_afety, could not have been more extravagant, had he arisen from the grave.
  • Meanwhile, Emily perused again the letters of her friends, whose expression_f esteem and kindness were very necessary consolations to her heart, awakene_s it was by the late interview to emotions of keener sorrow and regret.
  • The invitation to Chateau-le-Blanc was pressed with so much kindness by th_ount and his daughter, who strengthened it by a message from the Countess, and the occasion of it was so important to her friend, that Emily could no_efuse to accept it, nor, though she wished to remain in the quiet shades o_er native home, could she avoid perceiving the impropriety of remaining ther_lone, since Valancourt was again in the neighbourhood. Sometimes, too, sh_hought, that change of scenery and the society of her friends migh_ontribute, more than retirement, to restore her to tranquillity.
  • When Ludovico again appeared, she desired him to give a detail of hi_dventure in the north apartments, and to tell by what means he became _ompanion of the banditti, with whom the Count had found him.
  • He immediately obeyed, while Annette, who had not yet had leisure to ask hi_any questions, on the subject, prepared to listen, with a countenance o_xtreme curiosity, venturing to remind her lady of her incredulity, concernin_pirits, in the castle of Udolpho, and of her own sagacity in believing i_hem; while Emily, blushing at the consciousness of her late credulity, observed, that, if Ludovico's adventure could justify Annette's superstition, he had probably not been here to relate it.
  • Ludovico smiled at Annette, and bowed to Emily, and then began as follows:
  • 'You may remember, madam, that, on the night, when I sat up in the nort_hamber, my lord, the Count, and Mons. Henri accompanied me thither, and that, while they remained there, nothing happened to excite any alarm. When the_ere gone I made a fire in the bed-room, and, not being inclined to sleep, _at down on the hearth with a book I had brought with me to divert my mind. _onfess I did sometimes look round the chamber, with something lik_pprehension—'
  • 'O very like it, I dare say,' interrupted Annette, 'and I dare say too, if th_ruth was known, you shook from head to foot.'
  • 'Not quite so bad as that,' replied Ludovico, smiling, 'but several times, a_he wind whistled round the castle, and shook the old casements, I did fancy _eard odd noises, and, once or twice, I got up and looked about me; bu_othing was to be seen, except the grim figures in the tapestry, which seeme_o frown upon me, as I looked at them. I had sat thus for above an hour,'
  • continued Ludovico, 'when again I thought I heard a noise, and glanced my eye_ound the room, to discover what it came from, but, not perceiving any thing, I began to read again, and, when I had finished the story I was upon, I fel_rowsy, and dropped asleep. But presently I was awakened by the noise I ha_eard before, and it seemed to come from that part of the chamber, where th_ed stood; and then, whether it was the story I had been reading that affecte_y spirits, or the strange reports, that had been spread of these apartments, I don't know, but, when I looked towards the bed again, I fancied I saw _an's face within the dusky curtains.'
  • At the mention of this, Emily trembled, and looked anxiously, remembering th_pectacle she had herself witnessed there with Dorothee.
  • 'I confess, madam, my heart did fail me, at that instant,' continued Ludovico,
  • 'but a return of the noise drew my attention from the bed, and I the_istinctly heard a sound, like that of a key, turning in a lock, but wha_urprised me more was, that I saw no door where the sound seemed to come from.
  • In the next moment, however, the arras near the bed was slowly lifted, and _erson appeared behind it, entering from a small door in the wall. He stoo_or a moment as if half retreating, with his head bending under the arra_hich concealed the upper part of his face except his eyes scowling beneat_he tapestry as he held it; and then, while he raised it higher, I saw th_ace of another man behind, looking over his shoulder. I know not how it was, but, though my sword was upon the table before me, I had not the power jus_hen to seize it, but sat quite still, watching them, with my eyes half shu_s if I was asleep. I suppose they thought me so, and were debating what the_hould do, for I heard them whisper, and they stood in the same posture fo_he value of a minute, and then, I thought I perceived other faces in th_uskiness beyond the door, and heard louder whispers.'
  • 'This door surprises me,' said Emily, 'because I understood, that the Coun_ad caused the arras to be lifted, and the walls examined, suspecting, tha_hey might have concealed a passage through which you had departed.'
  • 'It does not appear so extraordinary to me, madam,' replied Ludovico, 'tha_his door should escape notice, because it was formed in a narrow compartment, which appeared to be part of the outward wall, and, if the Count had no_assed over it, he might have thought it was useless to search for a doo_here it seemed as if no passage could communicate with one; but the trut_as, that the passage was formed within the wall itself.—But, to return to th_en, whom I saw obscurely beyond the door, and who did not suffer me to remai_ong in suspense, concerning their design. They all rushed into the room, an_urrounded me, though not before I had snatched up my sword to defend myself.
  • But what could one man do against four? They soon disarmed me, and, havin_astened my arms, and gagged my mouth, forced me through the private door, leaving my sword upon the table, to assist, as they said, those who shoul_ome in the morning to look for me, in fighting against the ghosts. They the_ed me through many narrow passages, cut, as I fancied, in the walls, for _ad never seen them before, and down several flights of steps, till we came t_he vaults underneath the castle; and then opening a stone door, which _hould have taken for the wall itself, we went through a long passage, an_own other steps cut in the solid rock, when another door delivered us into _ave. After turning and twining about, for some time, we reached the mouth o_t, and I found myself on the sea-beach at the foot of the cliffs, with th_hateau above. A boat was in waiting, into which the ruffians got, forcing m_long with them, and we soon reached a small vessel, that was at anchor, wher_ther men appeared, when setting me aboard, two of the fellows who had seize_e, followed, and the other two rowed back to the shore, while we set sail. _oon found out what all this meant, and what was the business of these men a_he chateau. We landed in Rousillon, and, after lingering several days abou_he shore, some of their comrades came down from the mountains, and carried m_ith them to the fort, where I remained till my Lord so unexpectedly arrived, for they had taken good care to prevent my running away, having blindfolde_e, during the journey, and, if they had not done this, I think I never coul_ave found my road to any town, through the wild country we traversed. After _eached the fort I was watched like a prisoner, and never suffered to go out, without two or three companions, and I became so weary of life, that I ofte_ished to get rid of it.'
  • 'Well, but they let you talk,' said Annette, 'they did not gagg you after the_ot you away from the chateau, so I don't see what reason there was to be s_ery weary of living; to say nothing about the chance you had of seeing m_gain.'
  • Ludovico smiled, and Emily also, who enquired what was the motive of these me_or carrying him off.
  • 'I soon found out, madam,' resumed Ludovico, 'that they were pirates, who had, during many years, secreted their spoil in the vaults of the castle, which, being so near the sea, suited their purpose well. To prevent detection the_ad tried to have it believed, that the chateau was haunted, and, havin_iscovered the private way to the north apartments, which had been shut u_ver since the death of the lady marchioness, they easily succeeded. Th_ousekeeper and her husband, who were the only persons, that had inhabited th_astle, for some years, were so terrified by the strange noises they heard i_he nights, that they would live there no longer; a report soon went abroad, that it was haunted, and the whole country believed this the more readily, _uppose, because it had been said, that the lady marchioness had died in _trange way, and because my lord never would return to the place afterwards.'
  • 'But why,' said Emily, 'were not these pirates contented with the cave—why di_hey think it necessary to deposit their spoil in the castle?'
  • 'The cave, madam,' replied Ludovico, 'was open to any body, and thei_reasures would not long have remained undiscovered there, but in the vault_hey were secure so long as the report prevailed of their being haunted. Thu_hen, it appears, that they brought at midnight, the spoil they took on th_eas, and kept it till they had opportunities of disposing of it to advantage.
  • The pirates were connected with Spanish smugglers and banditti, who live amon_he wilds of the Pyrenees, and carry on various kinds of traffic, such a_obody would think of; and with this desperate horde of banditti I remained, till my lord arrived. I shall never forget what I felt, when I firs_iscovered him—I almost gave him up for lost! but I knew, that, if I shewe_yself, the banditti would discover who he was, and probably murder us all, t_revent their secret in the chateau being detected. I, therefore, kept out o_y lord's sight, but had a strict watch upon the ruffians, and determined, i_hey offered him or his family violence, to discover myself, and fight for ou_ives. Soon after, I overheard some of them laying a most diabolical plan fo_he murder and plunder of the whole party, when I contrived to speak to som_f my lord's attendants, telling them what was going forward, and we consulte_hat was best to be done; meanwhile my lord, alarmed at the absence of th_ady Blanche, demanded her, and the ruffians having given some unsatisfactor_nswer, my lord and Mons. St. Foix became furious, so then we thought it _ood time to discover the plot, and rushing into the chamber, I called out,
  • "Treachery! my lord count, defend yourself!" His lordship and the chevalie_rew their swords directly, and a hard battle we had, but we conquered a_ast, as, madam, you are already informed of by my Lord Count.'
  • 'This is an extraordinary adventure,' said Emily, 'and much praise is due, Ludovico, to your prudence and intrepidity. There are some circumstances, however, concerning the north apartments, which still perplex me; but, perhaps, you may be able to explain them. Did you ever hear the banditt_elate any thing extraordinary of these rooms?'
  • 'No, madam,' replied Ludovico, 'I never heard them speak about the rooms, except to laugh at the credulity of the old housekeeper, who once was ver_ear catching one of the pirates; it was since the Count arrived at th_hateau, he said, and he laughed heartily as he related the trick he ha_layed off.'
  • A blush overspread Emily's cheek, and she impatiently desired Ludovico t_xplain himself.
  • 'Why, my lady,' said he, 'as this fellow was, one night in the bed- room, h_eard somebody approaching through the next apartment, and not having time t_ift up the arras, and unfasten the door, he hid himself in the bed just by.
  • There he lay for some time in as great a fright, I suppose—'
  • 'As you was in,' interrupted Annette, 'when you sat up so boldly to watch b_ourself.'
  • 'Aye,' said Ludovico, 'in as great a fright as he ever made any body els_uffer; and presently the housekeeper and some other person came up to th_ed, when he, thinking they were going to examine it, bethought him, that hi_nly chance of escaping detection, was by terrifying them; so he lifted up th_ounterpane, but that did not do, till he raised his face above it, and the_hey both set off, he said, as if they had seen the devil, and he got out o_he rooms undiscovered.'
  • Emily could not forbear smiling at this explanation of the deception, whic_ad given her so much superstitious terror, and was surprised, that she coul_ave suffered herself to be thus alarmed, till she considered, that, when th_ind has once begun to yield to the weakness of superstition, trifles impres_t with the force of conviction. Still, however, she remembered with awe th_ysterious music, which had been heard, at midnight, near Chateau-le-Blanc, and she asked Ludovico if he could give any explanation of it; but he coul_ot.
  • 'I only know, madam,' he added, 'that it did not belong to the pirates, for _ave heard them laugh about it, and say, they believed the devil was in leagu_ith them there.'
  • 'Yes, I will answer for it he was,' said Annette, her countenance brightening,
  • 'I was sure all along, that he or his spirits had something to do with th_orth apartments, and now you see, madam, I am right at last.'
  • 'It cannot be denied, that his spirits were very busy in that part of th_hateau,' replied Emily, smiling. 'But I am surprised, Ludovico, that thes_irates should persevere in their schemes, after the arrival of the Count; what could they expect but certain detection?'
  • 'I have reason to believe, madam,' replied Ludovico, 'that it was thei_ntention to persevere no longer than was necessary for the removal of th_tores, which were deposited in the vaults; and it appeared, that they ha_een employed in doing so from within a short period after the Count'_rrival; but, as they had only a few hours in the night for this business, an_ere carrying on other schemes at the same time, the vaults were not abov_alf emptied, when they took me away. They gloried exceedingly in thi_pportunity of confirming the superstitious reports, that had been spread o_he north chambers, were careful to leave every thing there as they had foun_t, the better to promote the deception, and frequently, in their jocos_oods, would laugh at the consternation, which they believed the inhabitant_f the castle had suffered upon my disappearing, and it was to prevent th_ossibility of my betraying their secret, that they had removed me to such _istance. From that period they considered the chateau as nearly their own; but I found from the discourse of their comrades, that, though they wer_autious, at first, in shewing their power there, they had once very nearl_etrayed themselves. Going, one night, as was their custom, to the nort_hambers to repeat the noises, that had occasioned such alarm among th_ervants, they heard, as they were about to unfasten the secret door, voice_n the bed-room. My lord has since told me, that himself and M. Henri wer_hen in the apartment, and they heard very extraordinary sounds o_amentation, which it seems were made by these fellows, with their usua_esign of spreading terror; and my lord has owned, he then felt somewhat more, than surprise; but, as it was necessary to the peace of his family, that n_otice should be taken, he was silent on the subject, and enjoined silence t_is son.'
  • Emily, recollecting the change, that had appeared in the spirits of the Count, after the night, when he had watched in the north room, now perceived th_ause of it; and, having made some further enquiries upon this strange affair, she dismissed Ludovico, and went to give orders for the accommodation of he_riends, on the following day.
  • In the evening, Theresa, lame as she was, came to deliver the ring, with whic_alancourt had entrusted her, and, when she presented it, Emily was muc_ffected, for she remembered to have seen him wear it often in happier days.
  • She was, however, much displeased, that Theresa had received it, an_ositively refused to accept it herself, though to have done so would hav_fforded her a melancholy pleasure. Theresa entreated, expostulated, and the_escribed the distress of Valancourt, when he had given the ring, and repeate_he message, with which he had commissioned her to deliver it; and Emily coul_ot conceal the extreme sorrow this recital occasioned her, but wept, an_emained lost in thought.
  • 'Alas! my dear young lady!' said Theresa, 'why should all this be? I hav_nown you from your infancy, and it may well be supposed I love you, as if yo_as my own, and wish as much to see you happy. M. Valancourt, to be sure, _ave not known so long, but then I have reason to love him, as though he wa_y own son. I know how well you love one another, or why all this weeping an_ailing?' Emily waved her hand for Theresa to be silent, who, disregarding th_ignal, continued, 'And how much you are alike in your tempers and ways, and, that, if you were married, you would be the happiest couple in the whol_rovince—then what is there to prevent your marrying? Dear dear! to see ho_ome people fling away their happiness, and then cry and lament about it, jus_s if it was not their own doing, and as if there was more pleasure in wailin_nd weeping, than in being at peace. Learning, to be sure, is a fine thing, but, if it teaches folks no better than that, why I had rather be without it; if it would teach them to be happier, I would say something to it, then i_ould be learning and wisdom too.'
  • Age and long services had given Theresa a privilege to talk, but Emily no_ndeavoured to check her loquacity, and, though she felt the justness of som_f her remarks, did not choose to explain the circumstances, that ha_etermined her conduct towards Valancourt. She, therefore, only told Theresa, that it would much displease her to hear the subject renewed; that she ha_easons for her conduct, which she did not think it proper to mention, an_hat the ring must be returned, with an assurance, that she could not accep_t with propriety; and, at the same time, she forbade Theresa to repeat an_uture message from Valancourt, as she valued her esteem and kindness. Theres_as afflicted, and made another attempt, though feeble, to interest her fo_alancourt, but the unusual displeasure, expressed in Emily's countenance, soon obliged her to desist, and she departed in wonder and lamentation.
  • To relieve her mind, in some degree, from the painful recollections, tha_ntruded upon it, Emily busied herself in preparations for the journey int_anguedoc, and, while Annette, who assisted her, spoke with joy and affectio_f the safe return of Ludovico, she was considering how she might best promot_heir happiness, and determined, if it appeared, that his affection was a_nchanged as that of the simple and honest Annette, to give her a marriag_ortion, and settle them on some part of her estate. These considerations le_er to the remembrance of her father's paternal domain, which his affairs ha_ormerly compelled him to dispose of to M. Quesnel, and which she frequentl_ished to regain, because St. Aubert had lamented, that the chief lands of hi_ncestors had passed into another family, and because they had been his birth- place and the haunt of his early years. To the estate at Tholouse she had n_eculiar attachment, and it was her wish to dispose of this, that she migh_urchase her paternal domains, if M. Quesnel could be prevailed on to par_ith them, which, as he talked much of living in Italy, did not appear ver_mprobable.