> He is a great observer, and he looks Quite through the deeds of men: h_oves no plays, he hears no music; Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such _ort, As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit that could be mov'd t_mile at any thing. Such men as he be never at heart's ease, While they behol_ greater than themselves.
> JULIUS CAESAR
Montoni and his companion did not return home, till many hours after the daw_ad blushed upon the Adriatic. The airy groups, which had danced all nigh_long the colonnade of St. Mark, dispersed before the morning, like so man_pirits. Montoni had been otherwise engaged; his soul was little susceptibl_f light pleasures. He delighted in the energies of the passions; th_ifficulties and tempests of life, which wreck the happiness of others, rouse_nd strengthened all the powers of his mind, and afforded him the highes_njoyments, of which his nature was capable. Without some object of stron_nterest, life was to him little more than a sleep; and, when pursuits of rea_nterest failed, he substituted artificial ones, till habit changed thei_ature, and they ceased to be unreal. Of this kind was the habit of gaming, which he had adopted, first, for the purpose of relieving him from the languo_f inaction, but had since pursued with the ardour of passion. In thi_ccupation he had passed the night with Cavigni and a party of young men, wh_ad more money than rank, and more vice than either. Montoni despised th_reater part of these for the inferiority of their talents, rather than fo_heir vicious inclinations, and associated with them only to make them th_nstruments of his purposes. Among these, however, were some of superio_bilities, and a few whom Montoni admitted to his intimacy, but even toward_hese he still preserved a decisive and haughty air, which, while it impose_ubmission on weak and timid minds, roused the fierce hatred of strong ones.
He had, of course, many and bitter enemies; but the rancour of their hatre_roved the degree of his power; and, as power was his chief aim, he glorie_ore in such hatred, than it was possible he could in being esteemed. _eeling so tempered as that of esteem, he despised, and would have despise_imself also had he thought himself capable of being flattered by it.
Among the few whom he distinguished, were the Signors Bertolini, Orsino, an_erezzi. The first was a man of gay temper, strong passions, dissipated, an_f unbounded extravagance, but generous, brave, and unsuspicious. Orsino wa_eserved, and haughty; loving power more than ostentation; of a cruel an_uspicious temper; quick to feel an injury, and relentless in avenging it; cunning and unsearchable in contrivance, patient and indefatigable in th_xecution of his schemes. He had a perfect command of feature and of hi_assions, of which he had scarcely any, but pride, revenge and avarice; and, in the gratification of these, few considerations had power to restrain him, few obstacles to withstand the depth of his stratagems. This man was the chie_avourite of Montoni. Verezzi was a man of some talent, of fiery imagination, and the slave of alternate passions. He was gay, voluptuous, and daring; ye_ad neither perseverance or true courage, and was meanly selfish in all hi_ims. Quick to form schemes, and sanguine in his hope of success, he was th_irst to undertake, and to abandon, not only his own plans, but those adopte_rom other persons. Proud and impetuous, he revolted against al_ubordination; yet those who were acquainted with his character, and watche_he turn of his passions, could lead him like a child.
Such were the friends whom Montoni introduced to his family and his table, o_he day after his arrival at Venice. There were also of the party a Venetia_obleman, Count Morano, and a Signora Livona, whom Montoni had introduced t_is wife, as a lady of distinguished merit, and who, having called in th_orning to welcome her to Venice, had been requested to be of the dinne_arty.
Madame Montoni received with a very ill grace, the compliments of the Signors.
She disliked them, because they were the friends of her husband; hated them, because she believed they had contributed to detain him abroad till so late a_our of the preceding morning; and envied them, since, conscious of her ow_ant of influence, she was convinced, that he preferred their society to he_wn. The rank of Count Morano procured him that distinction which she refuse_o the rest of the company. The haughty sullenness of her countenance an_anner, and the ostentatious extravagance of her dress, for she had not ye_dopted the Venetian habit, were strikingly contrasted by the beauty, modesty, sweetness and simplicity of Emily, who observed, with more attention tha_leasure, the party around her. The beauty and fascinating manners of Signor_ivona, however, won her involuntary regard; while the sweetness of he_ccents and her air of gentle kindness awakened with Emily those pleasin_ffections, which so long had slumbered.
In the cool of the evening the party embarked in Montoni's gondola, and rowe_ut upon the sea. The red glow of sun-set still touched the waves, an_ingered in the west, where the melancholy gleam seemed slowly expiring, whil_he dark blue of the upper aether began to twinkle with stars. Emily sat, given up to pensive and sweet emotions. The smoothness of the water, ove_hich she glided, its reflected images—a new heaven and trembling stars belo_he waves, with shadowy outlines of towers and porticos, conspired with th_tillness of the hour, interrupted only by the passing wave, or the notes o_istant music, to raise those emotions to enthusiasm. As she listened to th_easured sound of the oars, and to the remote warblings that came in th_reeze, her softened mind returned to the memory of St. Aubert and t_alancourt, and tears stole to her eyes. The rays of the moon, strengthenin_s the shadows deepened, soon after threw a silvery gleam upon he_ountenance, which was partly shaded by a thin black veil, and touched it wit_nimitable softness. Hers was the CONTOUR of a Madona, with the sensibility o_ Magdalen; and the pensive uplifted eye, with the tear that glittered on he_heek, confirmed the expression of the character.
The last strain of distant music now died in air, for the gondola was far upo_he waves, and the party determined to have music of their own. The Coun_orano, who sat next to Emily, and who had been observing her for some time i_ilence, snatched up a lute, and struck the chords with the finger of harmon_erself, while his voice, a fine tenor, accompanied them in a rondeau full o_ender sadness. To him, indeed, might have been applied that beautifu_xhortation of an English poet, had it then existed:
Strike up, my master, But touch the strings with a religious softness! Teac_ounds to languish through the night's dull ear Till Melancholy starts fro_ff her couch, And Carelessness grows concert to attention!
With such powers of expression the Count sung the following
Soft as yon silver ray, that sleeps Upon the ocean's trembling tide; Soft a_he air, that lightly sweeps Yon said, that swells in stately pride:
Soft as the surge's stealing note, That dies along the distant shores, O_arbled strain, that sinks remote— So soft the sigh my bosom pours!
True as the wave to Cynthia's ray, True as the vessel to the breeze, True a_he soul to music's sway, Or music to Venetian seas:
Soft as yon silver beams, that sleep Upon the ocean's trembling breast; S_oft, so true, fond Love shall weep, So soft, so true, with THEE shall rest.
The cadence with which he returned from the last stanza to a repetition of th_irst; the fine modulation in which his voice stole upon the first line, an_he pathetic energy with which it pronounced the last, were such as onl_xquisite taste could give. When he had concluded, he gave the lute with _igh to Emily, who, to avoid any appearance of affectation, immediately bega_o play. She sung a melancholy little air, one of the popular songs of he_ative province, with a simplicity and pathos that made it enchanting. But it_ell-known melody brought so forcibly to her fancy the scenes and the persons, among which she had often heard it, that her spirits were overcome, her voic_rembled and ceased—and the strings of the lute were struck with a disordere_and; till, ashamed of the emotion she had betrayed, she suddenly passed on t_ song so gay and airy, that the steps of the dance seemed almost to echo t_he notes. BRAVISSIMO! burst instantly from the lips of her delighte_uditors, and she was compelled to repeat the air. Among the compliments tha_ollowed, those of the Count were not the least audible, and they had no_oncluded, when Emily gave the instrument to Signora Livona, whose voic_ccompanied it with true Italian taste.
Afterwards, the Count, Emily, Cavigni, and the Signora, sung canzonettes, accompanied by a couple of lutes and a few other instruments. Sometimes th_nstruments suddenly ceased, and the voices dropped from the full swell o_armony into a low chant; then, after a deep pause, they rose by degrees, th_nstruments one by one striking up, till the loud and full chorus soared agai_o heaven!
Meanwhile, Montoni, who was weary of this harmony, was considering how h_ight disengage himself from his party, or withdraw with such of it as woul_e willing to play, to a Casino. In a pause of the music, he propose_eturning to shore, a proposal which Orsino eagerly seconded, but which th_ount and the other gentlemen as warmly opposed.
Montoni still meditated how he might excuse himself from longer attendanc_pon the Count, for to him only he thought excuse necessary, and how he migh_et to land, till the gondolieri of an empty boat, returning to Venice, haile_is people. Without troubling himself longer about an excuse, he seized thi_pportunity of going thither, and, committing the ladies to the care of hi_riends, departed with Orsino, while Emily, for the first time, saw him g_ith regret; for she considered his presence a protection, though she knew no_hat she should fear. He landed at St. Mark's, and, hurrying to a Casino, wa_oon lost amidst a crowd of gamesters.
Meanwhile, the Count having secretly dispatched a servant in Montoni's boat, for his own gondola and musicians, Emily heard, without knowing his project, the gay song of gondolieri approaching, as they sat on the stern of the boat, and saw the tremulous gleam of the moon-light wave, which their oar_isturbed. Presently she heard the sound of instruments, and then a ful_ymphony swelled on the air, and, the boats meeting, the gondolieri haile_ach other. The count then explaining himself, the party removed into hi_ondola, which was embellished with all that taste could bestow.
While they partook of a collation of fruits and ice, the whole band, followin_t a distance in the other boat, played the most sweet and enchanting strains, and the Count, who had again seated himself by Emily, paid her unremitte_ttention, and sometimes, in a low but impassioned voice, uttered compliment_hich she could not misunderstand. To avoid them she conversed with Signor_ivona, and her manner to the Count assumed a mild reserve, which, thoug_ignified, was too gentle to repress his assiduities: he could see, hear, speak to no person, but Emily while Cavigni observed him now and then, with _ook of displeasure, and Emily, with one of uneasiness. she now wished fo_othing so much as to return to Venice, but it was near mid-night before th_ondolas approached St. Mark's Place, where the voice of gaiety and song wa_oud. The busy hum of mingling sounds was heard at a considerable distance o_he water, and, had not a bright moon-light discovered the city, with it_erraces and towers, a stranger would almost have credited the fabled wonder_f Neptune's court, and believed, that the tumult arose from beneath th_aves.
They landed at St. Mark's, where the gaiety of the colonnades and the beaut_f the night, made Madame Montoni willingly submit to the Count'_olicitations to join the promenade, and afterwards to take a supper with th_est of the party, at his Casino. If any thing could have dissipated Emily'_neasiness, it would have been the grandeur, gaiety, and novelty of th_urrounding scene, adorned with Palladio's palaces, and busy with parties o_asqueraders.
At length they withdrew to the Casino, which was fitted up with infinit_aste, and where a splendid banquet was prepared; but here Emily's reserv_ade the Count perceive, that it was necessary for his interest to win th_avour of Madame Montoni, which, from the condescension she had already shew_o him, appeared to be an achievement of no great difficulty. He transferred, therefore, part of his attention from Emily to her aunt, who felt too muc_lattered by the distinction even to disguise her emotion; and before th_arty broke up, he had entirely engaged the esteem of Madame Montoni. wheneve_e addressed her, her ungracious countenance relaxed into smiles, and t_hatever he proposed she assented. He invited her, with the rest of the party, to take coffee, in his box at the opera, on the following evening, and Emil_eard the invitation accepted, with strong anxiety, concerning the means o_xcusing herself from attending Madame Montoni thither.
It was very late before their gondola was ordered, and Emily's surprise wa_xtreme, when, on quitting the Casino, she beheld the broad sun rising out o_he Adriatic, while St. Mark's Place was yet crowded with company. Sleep ha_ong weighed heavily on her eyes, but now the fresh sea-breeze revived her, and she would have quitted the scene with regret, had not the Count bee_resent, performing the duty, which he had imposed upon himself, of escortin_hem home. There they heard that Montoni was not yet returned; and his wife, retiring in displeasure to her apartment, at length released Emily from th_atigue of further attendance.
Montoni came home late in the morning, in a very ill humour, having los_onsiderably at play, and, before he withdrew to rest, had a privat_onference with Cavigni, whose manner, on the following day, seemed to tell, that the subject of it had not been pleasing to him.
In the evening, Madame Montoni, who, during the day, had observed a sulle_ilence towards her husband, received visits from some Venetian ladies, wit_hose sweet manners Emily was particularly charmed. They had an air of eas_nd kindness towards the strangers, as if they had been their familiar friend_or years; and their conversation was by turns tender, sentimental and gay.
Madame, though she had no taste for such conversation, and whose coarsenes_nd selfishness sometimes exhibited a ludicrous contrast to their excessiv_efinement, could not remain wholly insensible to the captivations of thei_anner.
In a pause of conversation, a lady who was called Signora Herminia took up _ute, and began to play and sing, with as much easy gaiety, as if she had bee_lone. Her voice was uncommonly rich in tone, and various in expression; ye_he appeared to be entirely unconscious of its powers, and meant nothing les_han to display them. She sung from the gaiety of her heart, as she sat wit_er veil half thrown back, holding gracefully the lute, under the spreadin_oliage and flowers of some plants, that rose from baskets, and interlaced on_f the lattices of the saloon. Emily, retiring a little from the company, sketched her figure, with the miniature scenery around her, and drew a ver_nteresting picture, which, though it would not, perhaps, have born_riticism, had spirit and taste enough to awaken both the fancy and the heart.
When she had finished it, she presented it to the beautiful original, who wa_elighted with the offering, as well as the sentiment it conveyed, and assure_mily, with a smile of captivating sweetness, that she should preserve it as _ledge of her friendship.
In the evening Cavigni joined the ladies, but Montoni had other engagements; and they embarked in the gondola for St. Mark's, where the same gay compan_eemed to flutter as on the preceding night. The cool breeze, the glassy sea, the gentle sound of its waves, and the sweeter murmur of distant music; th_ofty porticos and arcades, and the happy groups that sauntered beneath them; these, with every feature and circumstance of the scene, united to char_mily, no longer teased by the officious attentions of Count Morano. But, a_he looked upon the moon-light sea, undulating along the walls of St. Mark, and, lingering for a moment over those walls, caught the sweet and melanchol_ong of some gondolier as he sat in his boat below, waiting for his master, her softened mind returned to the memory of her home, of her friends, and o_ll that was dear in her native country.
After walking some time, they sat down at the door of a Casino, and, whil_avigni was accommodating them with coffee and ice, were joined by Coun_orano. He sought Emily with a look of impatient delight, who, remembering al_he attention he had shewn her on the preceding evening, was compelled, a_efore, to shrink from his assiduities into a timid reserve, except when sh_onversed with Signora Herminia and the other ladies of her party.
It was near midnight before they withdrew to the opera, where Emily was not s_harmed but that, when she remembered the scene she had just quitted, she fel_ow infinitely inferior all the splendour of art is to the sublimity o_ature. Her heart was not now affected, tears of admiration did not start t_er eyes, as when she viewed the vast expanse of ocean, the grandeur of th_eavens, and listened to the rolling waters, and to the faint music that, a_ntervals, mingled with their roar. Remembering these, the scene before he_aded into insignificance.
Of the evening, which passed on without any particular incident, she wishe_he conclusion, that she might escape from the attentions of the Count; and, as opposite qualities frequently attract each other in our thoughts, thu_mily, when she looked on Count Morano, remembered Valancourt, and a sig_ometimes followed the recollection.
Several weeks passed in the course of customary visits, during which nothin_emarkable occurred. Emily was amused by the manners and scenes tha_urrounded her, so different from those of France, but where Count Morano, to_requently for her comfort, contrived to introduce himself. His manner, figur_nd accomplishments, which were generally admired, Emily would, perhaps, hav_dmired also, had her heart been disengaged from Valancourt, and had the Coun_orborne to persecute her with officious attentions, during which she observe_ome traits in his character, that prejudiced her against whatever migh_therwise be good in it.
Soon after his arrival at Venice, Montoni received a packet from M. Quesnel, in which the latter mentioned the death of his wife's uncle, at his villa o_he Brenta; and that, in consequence of this event, he should hasten to tak_ossession of that estate and of other effects bequeathed to him. This uncl_as the brother of Madame Quesnel's late mother; Montoni was related to her b_he father's side, and though he could have had neither claim nor expectatio_oncerning these possessions, he could scarcely conceal the envy which M.
Quesnel's letter excited.
Emily had observed with concern, that, since they left France, Montoni had no_ven affected kindness towards her aunt, and that, after treating her, a_irst, with neglect, he now met her with uniform ill-humour and reserve. Sh_ad never supposed, that her aunt's foibles could have escaped the discernmen_f Montoni, or that her mind or figure were of a kind to deserve hi_ttention. Her surprise, therefore, at this match, had been extreme; but sinc_e had made the choice, she did not suspect that he would so openly hav_iscovered his contempt of it. But Montoni, who had been allured by th_eeming wealth of Madame Cheron, was now severely disappointed by he_omparative poverty, and highly exasperated by the deceit she had employed t_onceal it, till concealment was no longer necessary. He had been deceived i_n affair, wherein he meant to be the deceiver; out-witted by the superio_unning of a woman, whose understanding he despised, and to whom he ha_acrificed his pride and his liberty, without saving himself from the ruin, which had impended over his head. Madame Montoni had contrived to have th_reatest part of what she really did possess, settled upon herself: wha_emained, though it was totally inadequate both to her husband's expectations, and to his necessities, he had converted into money, and brought with him t_enice, that he might a little longer delude society, and make a last effor_o regain the fortunes he had lost.
The hints which had been thrown out to Valancourt, concerning Montoni'_haracter and condition, were too true; but it was now left to time an_ccasion, to unfold the circumstances, both of what had, and of what had no_een hinted, and to time and occasion we commit them.
Madame Montoni was not of a nature to bear injuries with meekness, or t_esent them with dignity: her exasperated pride displayed itself in all th_iolence and acrimony of a little, or at least of an ill- regulated mind. Sh_ould not acknowledge, even to herself, that she had in any degree provoke_ontempt by her duplicity, but weakly persisted in believing, that she alon_as to be pitied, and Montoni alone to be censured; for, as her mind ha_aturally little perception of moral obligation, she seldom understood it_orce but when it happened to be violated towards herself: her vanity ha_lready been severely shocked by a discovery of Montoni's contempt; i_emained to be farther reproved by a discovery of his circumstances. Hi_ansion at Venice, though its furniture discovered a part of the truth t_nprejudiced persons, told nothing to those who were blinded by a resolutio_o believe whatever they wished. Madame Montoni still thought herself littl_ess than a princess, possessing a palace at Venice, and a castle among th_pennines. To the castle di Udolpho, indeed, Montoni sometimes talked of goin_or a few weeks to examine into its condition, and to receive some rents; fo_t appeared that he had not been there for two years, and that, during thi_eriod, it had been inhabited only by an old servant, whom he called hi_teward.
Emily listened to the mention of this journey with pleasure, for she not onl_xpected from it new ideas, but a release from the persevering assiduities o_ount Morano. In the country, too, she would have leisure to think o_alancourt, and to indulge the melancholy, which his image, and a recollectio_f the scenes of La Vallee, always blessed with the memory of her parents, awakened. The ideal scenes were dearer, and more soothing to her heart, tha_ll the splendour of gay assemblies; they were a kind of talisman tha_xpelled the poison of temporary evils, and supported her hopes of happy days: they appeared like a beautiful landscape, lighted up by a gleam of sun-shine, and seen through a perspective of dark and rugged rocks.
But Count Morano did not long confine himself to silent assiduities; h_eclared his passion to Emily, and made proposals to Montoni, who encouraged, though Emily rejected, him: with Montoni for his friend, and an abundance o_anity to delude him, he did not despair of success. Emily was astonished an_ighly disgusted at his perseverance, after she had explained her sentiment_ith a frankness that would not allow him to misunderstand them.
He now passed the greater part of his time at Montoni's, dining there almos_aily, and attending Madame and Emily wherever they went; and all this, notwithstanding the uniform reserve of Emily, whose aunt seemed as anxious a_ontoni to promote this marriage; and would never dispense with her attendanc_t any assembly where the Count proposed to be present.
Montoni now said nothing of his intended journey, of which Emily waite_mpatiently to hear; and he was seldom at home but when the Count, or Signo_rsino, was there, for between himself and Cavigni a coolness seemed t_ubsist, though the latter remained in his house. With Orsino, Montoni wa_requently closeted for hours together, and, whatever might be the business, upon which they consulted, it appeared to be of consequence, since Monton_ften sacrificed to it his favourite passion for play, and remained at hom_he whole night. There was somewhat of privacy, too, in the manner of Orsino'_isits, which had never before occurred, and which excited not only surprise, but some degree of alarm in Emily's mind, who had unwillingly discovered muc_f his character when he had most endeavoured to disguise it. After thes_isits, Montoni was often more thoughtful than usual; sometimes the dee_orkings of his mind entirely abstracted him from surrounding objects, an_hrew a gloom over his visage that rendered it terrible; at others, his eye_eemed almost to flash fire, and all the energies of his soul appeared to b_oused for some great enterprise. Emily observed these written characters o_is thoughts with deep interest, and not without some degree of awe, when sh_onsidered that she was entirely in his power; but forbore even to hint he_ears, or her observations, to Madame Montoni, who discerned nothing in he_usband, at these times, but his usual sternness.
A second letter from M. Quesnel announced the arrival of himself and his lad_t the Villa Miarenti; stated several circumstances of his good fortune, respecting the affair that had brought him into Italy; and concluded with a_arnest request to see Montoni, his wife and niece, at his new estate.
Emily received, about the same period, a much more interesting letter, an_hich soothed for a while every anxiety of her heart. Valancourt, hoping sh_ight be still at Venice, had trusted a letter to the ordinary post, that tol_er of his health, and of his unceasing and anxious affection. He had lingere_t Tholouse for some time after her departure, that he might indulge th_elancholy pleasure of wandering through the scenes where he had bee_ccustomed to behold her, and had thence gone to his brother's chateau, whic_as in the neighbourhood of La Vallee. Having mentioned this, he added, 'I_he duty of attending my regiment did not require my departure, I know no_hen I should have resolution enough to quit the neighbourhood of a plac_hich is endeared by the remembrance of you. The vicinity to La Vallee ha_lone detained me thus long at Estuviere: I frequently ride thither early i_he morning, that I may wander, at leisure, through the day, among scenes, which were once your home, where I have been accustomed to see you, and t_ear you converse. I have renewed my acquaintance with the good old Theresa, who rejoiced to see me, that she might talk of you: I need not say how muc_his circumstance attached me to her, or how eagerly I listened to her upo_er favourite subject. You will guess the motive that first induced me to mak_yself known to Theresa: it was, indeed, no other than that of gainin_dmittance into the chateau and gardens, which my Emily had so latel_nhabited: here, then, I wander, and meet your image under every shade: bu_hiefly I love to sit beneath the spreading branches of your favourite plane, where once, Emily, we sat together; where I first ventured to tell you, that _oved. O Emily! the remembrance of those moments overcomes me—I sit lost i_everie—I endeavour to see you dimly through my tears, in all the heaven o_eace and innocence, such as you then appeared to me; to hear again th_ccents of that voice, which then thrilled my heart with tenderness and hope.
I lean on the wall of the terrace, where we together watched the rapid curren_f the Garonne below, while I described the wild scenery about its source, bu_hought only of you. O Emily! are these moments passed for ever—will the_ever more return?'
In another part of his letter he wrote thus. 'You see my letter is dated o_any different days, and, if you look back to the first, you will perceive, that I began to write soon after your departure from France. To write was, indeed, the only employment that withdrew me from my own melancholy, an_endered your absence supportable, or rather, it seemed to destroy absence; for, when I was conversing with you on paper, and telling you every sentimen_nd affection of my heart, you almost appeared to be present. This employmen_as been from time to time my chief consolation, and I have deferred sendin_ff my packet, merely for the comfort of prolonging it, though it was certain, that what I had written, was written to no purpose till you received it.
Whenever my mind has been more than usually depressed I have come to pou_orth its sorrows to you, and have always found consolation; and, when an_ittle occurrence has interested my heart, and given a gleam of joy to m_pirits, I have hastened to communicate it to you, and have received reflecte_atisfaction. Thus, my letter is a kind of picture of my life and of m_houghts for the last month, and thus, though it has been deeply interestin_o me, while I wrote it, and I dare hope will, for the same reason, be no_ndifferent to you, yet to other readers it would seem to abound only i_rivolities. Thus it is always, when we attempt to describe the fine_ovements of the heart, for they are too fine to be discerned, they can onl_e experienced, and are therefore passed over by the indifferent observer, while the interested one feels, that all description is imperfect an_nnecessary, except as it may prove the sincerity of the writer, and sooth hi_wn sufferings. You will pardon all this egotism—for I am a lover.'
'I have just heard of a circumstance, which entirely destroys all my fair_aradise of ideal delight, and which will reconcile me to the necessity o_eturning to my regiment, for I must no longer wander beneath the belove_hades, where I have been accustomed to meet you in thought.—La Vallee is let!
I have reason to believe this is without your knowledge, from what Theres_old me this morning, and, therefore, I mention the circumstance. She she_ears, while she related, that she was going to leave the service of her dea_istress, and the chateau where she had lived so many happy years; and al_his, added she, without even a letter from Mademoiselle to soften the news; but it is all Mons. Quesnel's doings, and I dare say she does not even kno_hat is going forward.'
'Theresa added, That she had received a letter from him, informing her th_hateau was let, and that, as her services would no longer be required, sh_ust quit the place, on that day week, when the new tenant would arrive.'
'Theresa had been surprised by a visit from M. Quesnel, some time before th_eceipt of this letter, who was accompanied by a stranger that viewed th_remises with much curiosity.'
Towards the conclusion of his letter, which is dated a week after thi_entence, Valancourt adds, 'I have received a summons from my regiment, and _oin it without regret, since I am shut out from the scenes that are s_nteresting to my heart. I rode to La Vallee this morning, and heard that th_ew tenant was arrived, and that Theresa was gone. I should not treat th_ubject thus familiarly if I did not believe you to be uninformed of thi_isposal of your house; for your satisfaction I have endeavoured to lear_omething of the character and fortune of your tenant, but without success. H_s a gentleman, they say, and this is all I can hear. The place, as I wandere_ound the boundaries, appeared more melancholy to my imagination, than I ha_ver seen it. I wished earnestly to have got admittance, that I might hav_aken another leave of your favourite plane-tree, and thought of you once mor_eneath its shade: but I forbore to tempt the curiosity of strangers: th_ishing-house in the woods, however, was still open to me; thither I went, an_assed an hour, which I cannot even look back upon without emotion. O Emily!
surely we are not separated for ever—surely we shall live for each other!'
This letter brought many tears to Emily's eyes; tears of tenderness an_atisfaction on learning that Valancourt was well, and that time and absenc_ad in no degree effaced her image from his heart. There were passages in thi_etter which particularly affected her, such as those describing his visits t_a Vallee, and the sentiments of delicate affection that its scenes ha_wakened. It was a considerable time before her mind was sufficientl_bstracted from Valancourt to feel the force of his intelligence concerning L_allee. That Mons. Quesnel should let it, without even consulting her on th_easure, both surprised and shocked her, particularly as it proved th_bsolute authority he thought himself entitled to exercise in her affairs. I_s true, he had proposed, before she left France, that the chateau should b_et, during her absence, and to the oeconomical prudence of this she ha_othing to object; but the committing what had been her father's villa to th_ower and caprice of strangers, and the depriving herself of a sure home, should any unhappy circumstances make her look back to her home as an asylum, were considerations that made her, even then, strongly oppose the measure. He_ather, too, in his last hour, had received from her a solemn promise never t_ispose of La Vallee; and this she considered as in some degree violated i_he suffered the place to be let. But it was now evident with how littl_espect M. Quesnel had regarded these objections, and how insignificant h_onsidered every obstacle to pecuniary advantage. It appeared, also, that h_ad not even condescended to inform Montoni of the step he had taken, since n_otive was evident for Montoni's concealing the circumstance from her, if i_ad been made known to him: this both displeased and surprised her; but th_hief subjects of her uneasiness were—the temporary disposal of La Vallee, an_he dismission of her father's old and faithful servant.—'Poor Theresa,' sai_mily, 'thou hadst not saved much in thy servitude, for thou wast alway_ender towards the poor, and believd'st thou shouldst die in the family, wher_hy best years had been spent. Poor Theresa!—now thou art turned out in th_ld age to seek thy bread!'
Emily wept bitterly as these thoughts passed over her mind, and she determine_o consider what could be done for Theresa, and to talk very explicitly to M.
Quesnel on the subject; but she much feared that his cold heart could fee_nly for itself. She determined also to enquire whether he had made an_ention of her affairs, in his letter to Montoni, who soon gave her th_pportunity she sought, by desiring that she would attend him in his study.
She had little doubt, that the interview was intended for the purpose o_ommunicating to her a part of M. Quesnel's letter concerning the transaction_t La Vallee, and she obeyed him immediately. Montoni was alone.
'I have just been writing to Mons. Quesnel,' said he when Emily appeared, 'i_eply to the letter I received from him a few days ago, and I wished to tal_o you upon a subject that occupied part of it.'
'I also wished to speak with you on this topic, sir,' said Emily.
'It is a subject of some interest to you, undoubtedly,' rejoined Montoni, 'an_ think you must see it in the light that I do; indeed it will not bear an_ther. I trust you will agree with me, that any objection founded o_entiment, as they call it, ought to yield to circumstances of soli_dvantage.'
'Granting this, sir,' replied Emily, modestly, 'those of humanity ought surel_o be attended to. But I fear it is now too late to deliberate upon this plan, and I must regret, that it is no longer in my power to reject it.'
'It is too late,' said Montoni; 'but since it is so, I am pleased to observe, that you submit to reason and necessity without indulging useless complaint. _pplaud this conduct exceedingly, the more, perhaps, since it discovers _trength of mind seldom observable in your sex. When you are older you wil_ook back with gratitude to the friends who assisted in rescuing you from th_omantic illusions of sentiment, and will perceive, that they are only th_nares of childhood, and should be vanquished the moment you escape from th_ursery. I have not closed my letter, and you may add a few lines to infor_our uncle of your acquiescence. You will soon see him, for it is my intentio_o take you, with Madame Montoni, in a few days to Miarenti, and you can the_alk over the affair.'
Emily wrote on the opposite page of the paper as follows:
'It is now useless, sir, for me to remonstrate upon the circumstances of whic_ignor Montoni informs me that he has written. I could have wished, at least, that the affair had been concluded with less precipitation, that I might hav_aught myself to subdue some prejudices, as the Signor calls them, which stil_inger in my heart. As it is, I submit. In point of prudence nothing certainl_an be objected; but, though I submit, I have yet much to say on some othe_oints of the subject, when I shall have the honour of seeing you. In th_eantime I entreat you will take care of Theresa, for the sake of, Sir, You_ffectionate niece, EMILY ST. AUBERT.'
Montoni smiled satirically at what Emily had written, but did not object t_t, and she withdrew to her own apartment, where she sat down to begin _etter to Valancourt, in which she related the particulars of her journey, an_er arrival at Venice, described some of the most striking scenes in th_assage over the Alps; her emotions on her first view of Italy; the manner_nd characters of the people around her, and some few circumstances o_ontoni's conduct. But she avoided even naming Count Morano, much more th_eclaration he had made, since she well knew how tremblingly alive to fear i_eal love, how jealously watchful of every circumstance that may affect it_nterest; and she scrupulously avoided to give Valancourt even the slightes_eason for believing he had a rival.
On the following day Count Morano dined again at Montoni's. He was in a_ncommon flow of spirits, and Emily thought there was somewhat of exultatio_n his manner of addressing her, which she had never observed before. Sh_ndeavoured to repress this by more than her usual reserve, but the col_ivility of her air now seemed rather to encourage than to depress him. H_ppeared watchful of an opportunity of speaking with her alone, and more tha_nce solicited this; but Emily always replied, that she could hear nothin_rom him which he would be unwilling to repeat before the whole company.
In the evening, Madame Montoni and her party went out upon the sea, and as th_ount led Emily to his zendaletto, he carried her hand to his lips, an_hanked her for the condescension she had shown him. Emily, in extrem_urprise and displeasure, hastily withdrew her hand, and concluded that he ha_poken ironically; but, on reaching the steps of the terrace, and observing b_he livery, that it was the Count's zendaletto which waited below, while th_est of the party, having arranged themselves in the gondolas, were moving on, she determined not to permit a separate conversation, and, wishing him a goo_vening, returned to the portico. The Count followed to expostulate an_ntreat, and Montoni, who then came out, rendered solicitation unnecessary, for, without condescending to speak, he took her hand, and led her to th_endaletto. Emily was not silent; she entreated Montoni, in a low voice, t_onsider the impropriety of these circumstances, and that he would spare he_he mortification of submitting to them; he, however, was inflexible.
'This caprice is intolerable,' said he, 'and shall not be indulged: there i_o impropriety in the case.'
At this moment, Emily's dislike of Count Morano rose to abhorrence. That h_hould, with undaunted assurance, thus pursue her, notwithstanding all she ha_xpressed on the subject of his addresses, and think, as it was evident h_id, that her opinion of him was of no consequence, so long as his pretension_ere sanctioned by Montoni, added indignation to the disgust which she ha_elt towards him. She was somewhat relieved by observing that Montoni was t_e of the party, who seated himself on one side of her, while Morano place_imself on the other. There was a pause for some moments as the gondolier_repared their oars, and Emily trembled from apprehension of the discours_hat might follow this silence. At length she collected courage to break i_erself, in the hope of preventing fine speeches from Morano, and reproof fro_ontoni. To some trivial remark which she made, the latter returned a shor_nd disobliging reply; but Morano immediately followed with a genera_bservation, which he contrived to end with a particular compliment, and, though Emily passed it without even the notice of a smile, he was no_iscouraged.
'I have been impatient,' said he, addressing Emily, 'to express my gratitude; to thank you for your goodness; but I must also thank Signor Montoni, who ha_llowed me this opportunity of doing so.'
Emily regarded the Count with a look of mingled astonishment and displeasure.
'Why,' continued he, 'should you wish to diminish the delight of this momen_y that air of cruel reserve?—Why seek to throw me again into the perplexitie_f doubt, by teaching your eyes to contradict the kindness of your lat_eclaration? You cannot doubt the sincerity, the ardour of my passion; it i_herefore unnecessary, charming Emily! surely unnecessary, any longer t_ttempt a disguise of your sentiments.'
'If I ever had disguised them, sir,' said Emily, with recollected spirit, 'i_ould certainly be unnecessary any longer to do so. I had hoped, sir, that yo_ould have spared me any farther necessity of alluding to them; but, since yo_o not grant this, hear me declare, and for the last time, that you_erseverance has deprived you even of the esteem, which I was inclined t_elieve you merited.'
'Astonishing!' exclaimed Montoni: 'this is beyond even my expectation, thoug_ have hitherto done justice to the caprice of the sex! But you will observe, Mademoiselle Emily, that I am no lover, though Count Morano is, and that _ill not be made the amusement of your capricious moments. Here is the offe_f an alliance, which would do honour to any family; yours, you wil_ecollect, is not noble; you long resisted my remonstrances, but my honour i_ow engaged, and it shall not be trifled with.—You shall adhere to th_eclaration, which you have made me an agent to convey to the Count.'
'I must certainly mistake you, sir,' said Emily; 'my answers on the subjec_ave been uniform; it is unworthy of you to accuse me of caprice. If you hav_ondescended to be my agent, it is an honour I did not solicit. I myself hav_onstantly assured Count Morano, and you also, sir, that I never can accep_he honour he offers me, and I now repeat the declaration.'
The Count looked with an air of surprise and enquiry at Montoni, whos_ountenance also was marked with surprise, but it was surprise mingled wit_ndignation.
'Here is confidence, as well as caprice!' said the latter. 'Will you deny you_wn words, Madam?'
'Such a question is unworthy of an answer, sir;' said Emily blushing; 'yo_ill recollect yourself, and be sorry that you have asked it.'
'Speak to the point,' rejoined Montoni, in a voice of increasing vehemence.
'Will you deny your own words; will you deny, that you acknowledged, only _ew hours ago, that it was too late to recede from your engagements, and tha_ou accepted the Count's hand?'
'I will deny all this, for no words of mine ever imported it.'
'Astonishing! Will you deny what you wrote to Mons. Quesnel, your uncle? i_ou do, your own hand will bear testimony against you. What have you now t_ay?' continued Montoni, observing the silence and confusion of Emily.
'I now perceive, sir, that you are under a very great error, and that I hav_een equally mistaken.'
'No more duplicity, I entreat; be open and candid, if it be possible.'
'I have always been so, sir; and can claim no merit in such conduct, for _ave had nothing to conceal.'
'How is this, Signor?' cried Morano, with trembling emotion.
'Suspend your judgment, Count,' replied Montoni, 'the wiles of a female hear_re unsearchable. Now, Madame, your EXPLANATION.'
'Excuse me, sir, if I withhold my explanation till you appear willing to giv_e your confidence; assertion as present can only subject me to insult.'
'Your explanation, I entreat you!' said Morano.
'Well, well,' rejoined Montoni, 'I give you my confidence; let us hear thi_xplanation.'
'Let me lead to it then, by asking a question.'
'As many as you please,' said Montoni, contemptuously.
'What, then, was the subject of your letter to Mons. Quesnel?'
'The same that was the subject of your note to him, certainly. You did well t_tipulate for my confidence before you demanded that question.'
'I must beg you will be more explicit, sir; what was that subject?'
'What could it be, but the noble offer of Count Morano,' said Montoni.
'Then, sir, we entirely misunderstood each other,' replied Emily.
'We entirely misunderstood each other too, I suppose,' rejoined Montoni, 'i_he conversation which preceded the writing of that note? I must do you th_ustice to own, that you are very ingenious at this same art o_isunderstanding.'
Emily tried to restrain the tears that came to her eyes, and to answer wit_ecoming firmness. 'Allow me, sir, to explain myself fully, or to be wholl_ilent.'
'The explanation may now be dispensed with; it is anticipated. If Count Moran_till thinks one necessary, I will give him an honest one—You have change_our intention since our last conversation; and, if he can have patience an_umility enough to wait till to- morrow, he will probably find it change_gain: but as I have neither the patience or the humility, which you expec_rom a lover, I warn you of the effect of my displeasure!'
'Montoni, you are too precipitate,' said the Count, who had listened to thi_onversation in extreme agitation and impatience;—'Signora, I entreat your ow_xplanation of this affair!'
'Signor Montoni has said justly,' replied Emily, 'that all explanation may no_e dispensed with; after what has passed I cannot suffer myself to give one.
It is sufficient for me, and for you, sir, that I repeat my late declaration; let me hope this is the last time it will be necessary for me to repeat it—_ever can accept the honour of your alliance.'
'Charming Emily!' exclaimed the Count in an impassioned tone, 'let no_esentment make you unjust; let me not suffer for the offence o_ontoni!—Revoke—'
'Offence!' interrupted Montoni—'Count, this language is ridiculous, thi_ubmission is childish!—speak as becomes a man, not as the slave of a prett_yrant.'
'You distract me, Signor; suffer me to plead my own cause; you have alread_roved insufficient to it.'
'All conversation on this subject, sir,' said Emily, 'is worse than useless, since it can bring only pain to each of us: if you would oblige me, pursue i_o farther.'
'It is impossible, Madam, that I can thus easily resign the object of _assion, which is the delight and torment of my life.—I must still love—stil_ursue you with unremitting ardour;—when you shall be convinced of th_trength and constancy of my passion, your heart must soften into pity an_epentance.'
'Is this generous, sir? is this manly? can it either deserve or obtain th_steem you solicit, thus to continue a persecution from which I have n_resent means of escaping?'
A gleam of moonlight that fell upon Morano's countenance, revealed the stron_motions of his soul; and, glancing on Montoni discovered the dark resentment, which contrasted his features.
'By heaven this is too much!' suddenly exclaimed the Count; 'Signor Montoni, you treat me ill; it is from you that I shall look for explanation.'
'From me, sir! you shall have it;' muttered Montoni, 'if your discernment i_ndeed so far obscured by passion, as to make explanation necessary. And fo_ou, Madam, you should learn, that a man of honour is not to be trifled with, though you may, perhaps, with impunity, treat a BOY like a puppet.'
This sarcasm roused the pride of Morano, and the resentment which he had fel_t the indifference of Emily, being lost in indignation of the insolence o_ontoni, he determined to mortify him, by defending her.
'This also,' said he, replying to Montoni's last words, 'this also, shall no_ass unnoticed. I bid you learn, sir, that you have a stronger enemy than _oman to contend with: I will protect Signora St. Aubert from your threatene_esentment. You have misled me, and would revenge your disappointed views upo_he innocent.'
'Misled you!' retorted Montoni with quickness, 'is my conduct—my word'—the_ausing, while he seemed endeavouring to restrain the resentment, that flashe_n his eyes, in the next moment he added, in a subdued voice, 'Count Morano, this is a language, a sort of conduct to which I am not accustomed: it is th_onduct of a passionate boy- -as such, I pass it over in contempt.'
'In contempt, Signor?'
'The respect I owe myself,' rejoined Montoni, 'requires, that I shoul_onverse more largely with you upon some points of the subject in dispute.
Return with me to Venice, and I will condescend to convince you of you_rror.'
'Condescend, sir! but I will not condescend to be so conversed with.'
Montoni smiled contemptuously; and Emily, now terrified for the consequence_f what she saw and heard, could no longer be silent. She explained the whol_ubject upon which she had mistaken Montoni in the morning, declaring, tha_he understood him to have consulted her solely concerning the disposal of L_allee, and concluding with entreating, that he would write immediately to M.
Quesnel, and rectify the mistake.
But Montoni either was, or affected to be, still incredulous; and Count Moran_as still entangled in perplexity. While she was speaking, however, th_ttention of her auditors had been diverted from the immediate occasion o_heir resentment, and their passion consequently became less. Montoni desire_he Count would order his servants to row back to Venice, that he might hav_ome private conversation with him; and Morano, somewhat soothed by hi_oftened voice and manner, and eager to examine into the full extent of hi_ifficulties, complied.
Emily, comforted by this prospect of release, employed the present moments i_ndeavouring, with conciliating care, to prevent any fatal mischief betwee_he persons who so lately had persecuted and insulted her.
Her spirits revived, when she heard once more the voice of song and laughter, resounding from the grand canal, and at length entered again between it_tately piazzas. The zendaletto stopped at Montoni's mansion, and the Coun_astily led her into the hall, where Montoni took his arm, and said somethin_n a low voice, on which Morano kissed the hand he held, notwithstandin_mily's effort to disengage it, and, wishing her a good evening, with a_ccent and look she could not misunderstand, returned to his zendaletto wit_ontoni.
Emily, in her own apartment, considered with intense anxiety all the unjus_nd tyrannical conduct of Montoni, the dauntless perseverance of Morano, an_er own desolate situation, removed from her friends and country. She looke_n vain to Valancourt, confined by his profession to a distant kingdom, as he_rotector; but it gave her comfort to know, that there was, at least, on_erson in the world, who would sympathize in her afflictions, and whose wishe_ould fly eagerly to release her. Yet she determined not to give hi_navailing pain by relating the reasons she had to regret the having rejecte_is better judgment concerning Montoni; reasons, however, which could no_nduce her to lament the delicacy and disinterested affection that had mad_er reject his proposal for a clandestine marriage. The approaching intervie_ith her uncle she regarded with some degree of hope, for she determined t_epresent to him the distresses of her situation, and to entreat that he woul_llow her to return to France with him and Madame Quesnel. Then, suddenl_emembering that her beloved La Vallee, her only home, was no longer at he_ommand, her tears flowed anew, and she feared that she had little pity t_xpect from a man who, like M. Quesnel, could dispose of it without deignin_o consult with her, and could dismiss an aged and faithful servant, destitut_f either support or asylum. But, though it was certain, that she had hersel_o longer a home in France, and few, very few friends there, she determined t_eturn, if possible, that she might be released from the power of Montoni, whose particularly oppressive conduct towards herself, and general characte_s to others, were justly terrible to her imagination. She had no wish t_eside with her uncle, M. Quesnel, since his behaviour to her late father an_o herself, had been uniformly such as to convince her, that in flying to hi_he could only obtain an exchange of oppressors; neither had she the slightes_ntention of consenting to the proposal of Valancourt for an immediat_arriage, though this would give her a lawful and a generous protector, fo_he chief reasons, which had formerly influenced her conduct, still existe_gainst it, while others, which seemed to justify the step, would not be don_way; and his interest, his fame were at all times too dear to her, to suffe_er to consent to a union, which, at this early period of their lives, woul_robably defeat both. One sure, and proper asylum, however, would still b_pen to her in France. She knew that she could board in the convent, where sh_ad formerly experienced so much kindness, and which had an affecting an_olemn claim upon her heart, since it contained the remains of her lat_ather. Here she could remain in safety and tranquillity, till the term, fo_hich La Vallee might be let, should expire; or, till the arrangement of M.
Motteville's affairs enabled her so far to estimate the remains of he_ortune, as to judge whether it would be prudent for her to reside there.
Concerning Montoni's conduct with respect to his letters to M. Quesnel, sh_ad many doubts; however he might be at first mistaken on the subject, sh_uch suspected that he wilfully persevered in his error, as a means o_ntimidating her into a compliance with his wishes of uniting her to Coun_orano. Whether this was or was not the fact, she was extremely anxious t_xplain the affair to M. Quesnel, and looked forward with a mixture o_mpatience, hope and fear, to her approaching visit.
On the following day, Madame Montoni, being alone with Emily, introduced th_ention of Count Morano, by expressing her surprise, that she had not joine_he party on the water the preceding evening, and at her abrupt departure t_enice. Emily then related what had passed, expressed her concern for th_utual mistake that had occurred between Montoni and herself, and solicite_er aunt's kind offices in urging him to give a decisive denial to the count'_urther addresses; but she soon perceived, that Madame Montoni had not bee_gnorant of the late conversation, when she introduced the present.
'You have no encouragement to expect from me,' said her aunt, 'in thes_otions. I have already given my opinion on the subject, and think Signo_ontoni right in enforcing, by any means, your consent. If young persons wil_e blind to their interest, and obstinately oppose it, why, the greates_lessings they can have are friends, who will oppose their folly. Pray wha_retensions of any kind do you think you have to such a match as is no_ffered you?'
'Not any whatever, Madam,' replied Emily, 'and, therefore, at least, suffer m_o be happy in my humility.'
'Nay, niece, it cannot be denied, that you have pride enough; my poor brother, your father, had his share of pride too; though, let me add, his fortune di_ot justify it.'
Emily, somewhat embarrassed by the indignation, which this malevolent allusio_o her father excited, and by the difficulty of rendering her answer a_emperate as it should be reprehensive, hesitated for some moments, in _onfusion, which highly gratified her aunt. At length she said, 'My father'_ride, Madam, had a noble object—the happiness which he knew could be derive_nly from goodness, knowledge and charity. As it never consisted in hi_uperiority, in point of fortune, to some persons, it was not humbled by hi_nferiority, in that respect, to others. He never disdained those, who wer_retched by poverty and misfortune; he did sometimes despise persons, who, with many opportunities of happiness, rendered themselves miserable by vanity, ignorance and cruelty. I shall think it my highest glory to emulate suc_ride.'
'I do not pretend to understand any thing of these high-flown sentiments, niece; you have all that glory to yourself: I would teach you a little plai_ense, and not have you so wise as to despise happiness.'
'That would indeed not be wisdom, but folly,' said Emily, 'for wisdom ca_oast no higher attainment than happiness; but you will allow, Madam, that ou_deas of happiness may differ. I cannot doubt, that you wish me to be happy, but I must fear you are mistaken in the means of making me so.'
'I cannot boast of a learned education, niece, such as your father though_roper to give you, and, therefore, do not pretend to understand all thes_ine speeches about happiness. I must be contented to understand only commo_ense, and happy would it have been for you and your father, if that had bee_ncluded in his education.'
Emily was too much shocked by these reflections on her father's memory, t_espise this speech as it deserved.
Madame Montoni was about to speak, but Emily quitted the room, and retired t_er own, where the little spirit she had lately exerted yielded to grief an_exation, and left her only to her tears. From every review of her situatio_he could derive, indeed, only new sorrow. To the discovery, which had jus_een forced upon her, of Montoni's unworthiness, she had now to add, that o_he cruel vanity, for the gratification of which her aunt was about t_acrifice her; of the effrontery and cunning, with which, at the time that sh_editated the sacrifice, she boasted of her tenderness, or insulted he_ictim; and of the venomous envy, which, as it did not scruple to attack he_ather's character, could scarcely be expected to withhold from her own.
During the few days that intervened between this conversation and th_eparture for Miarenti, Montoni did not once address himself to Emily. Hi_ooks sufficiently declared his resentment; but that he should forbear t_enew a mention of the subject of it, exceedingly surprised her, who was n_ess astonished, that, during three days, Count Morano neither visite_ontoni, or was named by him. Several conjectures arose in her mind. Sometime_he feared that the dispute between them had been revived, and had ende_atally to the Count. Sometimes she was inclined to hope, that weariness, o_isgust at her firm rejection of his suit had induced him to relinquish it; and, at others, she suspected that he had now recourse to stratagem, an_orbore his visits, and prevailed with Montoni to forbear the repetition o_is name, in the expectation that gratitude and generosity would prevail wit_er to give him the consent, which he could not hope from love.
Thus passed the time in vain conjecture, and alternate hopes and fears, til_he day arrived when Montoni was to set out for the villa of Miarenti, which, like the preceding ones, neither brought the Count, or the mention of him.
Montoni having determined not to leave Venice, till towards evening, that h_ight avoid the heats, and catch the cool breezes of night, embarked about a_our before sun-set, with his family, in a barge, for the Brenta. Emily sa_lone near the stern of the vessel, and, as it floated slowly on, watched th_ay and lofty city lessening from her view, till its palaces seemed to sink i_he distant waves, while its loftier towers and domes, illumined by th_eclining sun, appeared on the horizon, like those far-seen clouds which, i_ore northern climes, often linger on the western verge, and catch the las_ight of a summer's evening. Soon after, even these grew dim, and faded i_istance from her sight; but she still sat gazing on the vast scene o_loudless sky, and mighty waters, and listening in pleasing awe to the deep- sounding waves, while, as her eyes glanced over the Adriatic, towards th_pposite shores, which were, however, far beyond the reach of sight, sh_hought of Greece, and, a thousand classical remembrances stealing to he_ind, she experienced that pensive luxury which is felt on viewing the scene_f ancient story, and on comparing their present state of silence and solitud_ith that of their former grandeur and animation. The scenes of the Illia_llapsed in glowing colours to her fancy—scenes, once the haunt of heroes—no_onely, and in ruins; but which still shone, in the poet's strain, in al_heir youthful splendour.
As her imagination painted with melancholy touches, the deserted plains o_roy, such as they appeared in this after-day, she reanimated the landscap_ith the following little story.
O'er Ilion's plains, where once the warrior bled, And once the poet rais'd hi_eathless strain, O'er Ilion's plains a weary driver led His stately camels: For the ruin'd fane
Wide round the lonely scene his glance he threw, For now the red cloud fade_n the west, And twilight o'er the silent landscape drew Her deep'ning veil; eastward his course he prest:
There, on the grey horizon's glimm'ring bound, Rose the proud columns o_eserted Troy, And wandering shepherds now a shelter found Within those walls, where princes wont to joy.
Beneath a lofty porch the driver pass'd, Then, from his camels heav'd th_eavy load; Partook with them the simple, cool repast, And in short vespe_ave himself to God.
From distant lands with merchandise he came, His all of wealth his patien_ervants bore; Oft deep-drawn sighs his anxious wish proclaim To reach, again, his happy cottage door;
For there, his wife, his little children, dwell; Their smiles shall pay th_oil of many an hour: Ev'n now warm tears to expectation swell, As fancy o'e_is mind extends her pow'r.
A death-like stillness reign'd, where once the song, The song of heroes, wak'_he midnight air, Save, when a solemn murmur roll'd along, That seem'd t_ay—'for future worlds prepare.'
For Time's imperious voice was frequent heard Shaking the marble temple to it_all, (By hands he long had conquer'd, vainly rear'd), And distant ruin_nswer'd to his call.
While Hamet slept, his camels round him lay, Beneath him, all his store o_ealth was piled; And here, his cruse and empty wallet lay, And there, th_lute that chear'd him in the wild.
The robber Tartar on his slumber stole, For o'er the waste, at eve, he watch'_is train; Ah! who his thirst of plunder shall control? Who calls on him fo_ercy—calls in vain!
A poison'd poignard in his belt he wore, A crescent sword depended at hi_ide, The deathful quiver at his back he bore, And infants—at his very loo_ad died!
The moon's cold beam athwart the temple fell, And to his sleeping prey th_artar led; But soft!—a startled camel shook his bell, Then stretch'd hi_imbs, and rear'd his drowsy head.
Hamet awoke! the poignard glitter'd high! Swift from his couch he sprung, and
'scap'd the blow; When from an unknown hand the arrows fly, That lay th_uffian, in his vengeance, low.
He groan'd, he died! from forth a column'd gate A fearful shepherd, pale an_ilent, crept, Who, as he watch'd his folded flock star-late, Had mark'd th_obber steal where Hamet slept.
He fear'd his own, and sav'd a stranger's life! Poor Hamet clasp'd him to hi_rateful heart; Then, rous'd his camels for the dusty strife, And, with th_hepherd, hasten'd to depart.
And now, aurora breathes her fresh'ning gale, And faintly trembles on th_astern cloud; And now, the sun, from under twilight's veil, Looks gail_orth, and melts her airy shroud.
Wide o'er the level plains, his slanting beams Dart their long lines o_lion's tower'd site; The distant Hellespont with morning gleams, And ol_camander winds his waves in light.
All merry sound the camel bells, so gay, And merry beats fond Hamet's heart, for he, E'er the dim evening steals upon the day, His children, wife and happ_ome shall see.
As Emily approached the shores of Italy she began to discriminate the ric_eatures and varied colouring of the landscape—the purple hills, groves o_range pine and cypress, shading magnificent villas, and towns rising amon_ineyards and plantations. The noble Brenta, pouring its broad waves into th_ea, now appeared, and, when she reached its mouth, the barge stopped, tha_he horses might be fastened which were now to tow it up the stream. Thi_one, Emily gave a last look to the Adriatic, and to the dim sail,
that from the sky-mix'd wave Dawns on the sight,
and the barge slowly glided between the green and luxuriant slopes of th_iver. The grandeur of the Palladian villas, that adorn these shores, wa_onsiderably heightened by the setting rays, which threw strong contrasts o_ight and shade upon the porticos and long arcades, and beamed a mellow lustr_pon the orangeries and the tall groves of pine and cypress, that overhung th_uildings. The scent of oranges, of flowering myrtles, and other odoriferou_lants was diffused upon the air, and often, from these embowered retreats, _train of music stole on the calm, and 'softened into silence.'
The sun now sunk below the horizon, twilight fell over the landscape, an_mily, wrapt in musing silence, continued to watch its features graduall_anishing into obscurity. she remembered her many happy evenings, when wit_t. Aubert she had observed the shades of twilight steal over a scene a_eautiful as this, from the gardens of La Vallee, and a tear fell to th_emory of her father. Her spirits were softened into melancholy by th_nfluence of the hour, by the low murmur of the wave passing under the vessel, and the stillness of the air, that trembled only at intervals with distan_usic:—why else should she, at these moments, have looked on her attachment t_alancourt with presages so very afflicting, since she had but lately receive_etters from him, that had soothed for a while all her anxieties? It no_eemed to her oppressed mind, that she had taken leave of him for ever, an_hat the countries, which separated them, would never more be re-traced b_er. She looked upon Count Morano with horror, as in some degree the cause o_his; but apart from him, a conviction, if such that may be called, whic_rises from no proof, and which she knew not how to account for, seized he_ind—that she should never see Valancourt again. Though she knew, that neithe_orano's solicitations, nor Montoni's commands had lawful power to enforce he_bedience, she regarded both with a superstitious dread, that they woul_inally prevail.
Lost in this melancholy reverie, and shedding frequent tears, Emily was a_ength roused by Montoni, and she followed him to the cabin, wher_efreshments were spread, and her aunt was seated alone. The countenance o_adame Montoni was inflamed with resentment, that appeared to be th_onsequence of some conversation she had held with her husband, who regarde_er with a kind of sullen disdain, and both preserved, for some time, _aughty silence. Montoni then spoke to Emily of Mons. Quesnel: 'You will not, I hope, persist in disclaiming your knowledge of the subject of my letter t_im?'
'I had hoped, sir, that it was no longer necessary for me to disclaim it,'
said Emily, 'I had hoped, from your silence, that you was convinced of you_rror.'
'You have hoped impossibilities then,' replied Montoni; 'I might as reasonabl_ave expected to find sincerity and uniformity of conduct in one of your sex, as you to convict me of error in this affair.'
Emily blushed, and was silent; she now perceived too clearly, that she ha_oped an impossibility, for, where no mistake had been committed no convictio_ould follow; and it was evident, that Montoni's conduct had not been th_onsequence of mistake, but of design.
Anxious to escape from conversation, which was both afflicting and humiliatin_o her, she soon returned to the deck, and resumed her station near the stern, without apprehension of cold, for no vapour rose from the water, and the ai_as dry and tranquil; here, at least, the benevolence of nature allowed he_he quiet which Montoni had denied her elsewhere. It was now past midnight.
The stars shed a kind of twilight, that served to shew the dark outline of th_hores on either hand, and the grey surface of the river; till the moon ros_rom behind a high palm grove, and shed her mellow lustre over the scene. Th_essel glided smoothly on: amid the stillness of the hour Emily heard, now an_hen, the solitary voice of the barge-men on the bank, as they spoke to thei_orses; while, from a remote part of the vessel, with melancholy song,
The sailor sooth'd, Beneath the trembling moon, the midnight wave.
Emily, meanwhile, anticipated her reception by Mons, and Madame Quesnel; considered what she should say on the subject of La Vallee; and then, to with- hold her mind from more anxious topics, tried to amuse herself b_iscriminating the faint-drawn features of the landscape, reposing in th_oon-light. While her fancy thus wandered, she saw, at a distance, a buildin_eeping between the moon-light trees, and, as the barge approached, hear_oices speaking, and soon distinguished the lofty portico of a villa, overshadowed by groves of pine and sycamore, which she recollected to be th_ame, that had formerly been pointed out to her, as belonging to Madam_uesnel's relative.
The barge stopped at a flight of marble steps, which led up the bank to _awn. Lights appeared between some pillars beyond the portico. Montoni sen_orward his servant, and then disembarked with his family. They found Mons.
and Madame Quesnel, with a few friends, seated on sofas in the portico, enjoying the cool breeze of the night, and eating fruits and ices, while som_f their servants at a little distance, on the river's bank, were performing _imple serenade. Emily was now accustomed to the way of living in this war_ountry, and was not surprised to find Mons. and Madame Quesnel in thei_ortico, two hours after midnight.
The usual salutations being over, the company seated themselves in th_ortico, and refreshments were brought them from the adjoining hall, where _anquet was spread, and servants attended. When the bustle of this meeting ha_ubsided, and Emily had recovered from the little flutter into which it ha_hrown her spirits, she was struck with the singular beauty of the hall, s_erfectly accommodated to the luxuries of the season. It was of white marble, and the roof, rising into an open cupola, was supported by columns of the sam_aterial. Two opposite sides of the apartment, terminating in open porticos, admitted to the hall a full view of the gardens, and of the river scenery; i_he centre a fountain continually refreshed the air, and seemed to heighte_he fragrance, that breathed from the surrounding orangeries, while it_ashing waters gave an agreeable and soothing sound. Etruscan lamps, suspende_rom the pillars, diffused a brilliant light over the interior part of th_all, leaving the remoter porticos to the softer lustre of the moon.
Mons. Quesnel talked apart to Montoni of his own affairs, in his usual strai_f self-importance; boasted of his new acquisitions, and then affected to pit_ome disappointments, which Montoni had lately sustained. Meanwhile, th_atter, whose pride at least enabled him to despise such vanity as this, an_hose discernment at once detected under this assumed pity, the frivolou_alignity of Quesnel's mind, listened to him in contemptuous silence, till h_amed his niece, and then they left the portico, and walked away into th_ardens.
Emily, however, still attended to Madame Quesnel, who spoke of France (fo_ven the name of her native country was dear to her) and she found som_leasure in looking at a person, who had lately been in it. That country, too, was inhabited by Valancourt, and she listened to the mention of it, with _aint hope, that he also would be named. Madame Quesnel, who, when she was i_rance, had talked with rapture of Italy, now, that she was in Italy, talke_ith equal praise of France, and endeavoured to excite the wonder and the env_f her auditors by accounts of places, which they had not been happy enough t_ee. In these descriptions she not only imposed upon them, but upon herself, for she never thought a present pleasure equal to one, that was passed; an_hus the delicious climate, the fragrant orangeries and all the luxuries, which surrounded her, slept unnoticed, while her fancy wandered over th_istant scenes of a northern country.
Emily listened in vain for the name of Valancourt. Madame Montoni spoke in he_urn of the delights of Venice, and of the pleasure she expected from visitin_he fine castle of Montoni, on the Apennine; which latter mention, at least, was merely a retaliating boast, for Emily well knew, that her aunt had n_aste for solitary grandeur, and, particularly, for such as the castle o_dolpho promised. Thus the party continued to converse, and, as far a_ivility would permit, to torture each other by mutual boasts, while the_eclined on sofas in the portico, and were environed with delights both fro_ature and art, by which any honest minds would have been tempered t_enevolence, and happy imaginations would have been soothed into enchantment.
The dawn, soon after, trembled in the eastern horizon, and the light tints o_orning, gradually expanding, shewed the beautifully declining forms of th_talian mountains and the gleaming landscapes, stretched at their feet. The_he sun-beams, shooting up from behind the hills, spread over the scene tha_ine saffron tinge, which seems to impart repose to all it touches. Th_andscape no longer gleamed; all its glowing colours were revealed, excep_hat its remoter features were still softened and united in the mist o_istance, whose sweet effect was heightened to Emily by the dark verdure o_he pines and cypresses, that over-arched the foreground of the river.
The market people, passing with their boats to Venice, now formed a movin_icture on the Brenta. Most of these had little painted awnings, to shelte_heir owners from the sun-beams, which, together with the piles of fruit an_lowers, displayed beneath, and the tasteful simplicity of the peasant girls, who watched the rural treasures, rendered them gay and striking objects. Th_wift movement of the boats down the current, the quick glance of oars in th_ater, and now and then the passing chorus of peasants, who reclined under th_ail of their little bark, or the tones of some rustic instrument, played by _irl, as she sat near her sylvan cargo, heightened the animation and festivit_f the scene.
When Montoni and M. Quesnel had joined the ladies, the party left the portic_or the gardens, where the charming scenery soon withdrew Emily's thought_rom painful subjects. The majestic forms and rich verdure of cypresses sh_ad never seen so perfect before: groves of cedar, lemon, and orange, th_piry clusters of the pine and poplar, the luxuriant chesnut and orienta_lane, threw all their pomp of shade over these gardens; while bowers o_lowering myrtle and other spicy shrubs mingled their fragrance with that o_lowers, whose vivid and various colouring glowed with increased effec_eneath the contrasted umbrage of the groves. The air also was continuall_efreshed by rivulets, which, with more taste than fashion, had been suffere_o wander among the green recesses.
Emily often lingered behind the party, to contemplate the distant landscape, that closed a vista, or that gleamed beneath the dark foliage of th_oreground;—the spiral summits of the mountains, touched with a purple tint, broken and steep above, but shelving gradually to their base; the open valley, marked by no formal lines of art; and the tall groves of cypress, pine an_oplar, sometimes embellished by a ruined villa, whose broken columns appeare_etween the branches of a pine, that seemed to droop over their fall.
From other parts of the gardens, the character of the view was entirel_hanged, and the fine solitary beauty of the landscape shifted for the crowde_eatures and varied colouring of inhabitation.
The sun was now gaining fast upon the sky, and the party quitted the gardens, and retired to repose.