> Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp, Oft seen in charnel-vaults an_epulchres, Lingering, and sitting, by a new-made grave.
On the following day, Montoni sent a second excuse to Emily, who was surprise_t the circumstance. 'This is very strange!' said she to herself. 'Hi_onscience tells him the purport of my visit, and he defers it, to avoid a_xplanation.' She now almost resolved to throw herself in his way, but terro_hecked the intention, and this day passed, as the preceding one, with Emily, except that a degree of awful expectation, concerning the approaching night, now somewhat disturbed the dreadful calmness that had pervaded her mind.
Towards evening, the second part of the band, which had made the firs_xcursion among the mountains, returned to the castle, where, as they entere_he courts, Emily, in her remote chamber, heard their loud shouts and strain_f exultation, like the orgies of furies over some horrid sacrifice. She eve_eared they were about to commit some barbarous deed; a conjecture from which, however, Annette soon relieved her, by telling, that the people were onl_xulting over the plunder they had brought with them. This circumstance stil_urther confirmed her in the belief, that Montoni had really commenced to be _aptain of banditti, and meant to retrieve his broken fortunes by the plunde_f travellers! Indeed, when she considered all the circumstances of hi_ituation—in an armed, and almost inaccessible castle, retired far among th_ecesses of wild and solitary mountains, along whose distant skirts wer_cattered towns, and cities, whither wealthy travellers were continuall_assing—this appeared to be the situation of all others most suited for th_uccess of schemes of rapine, and she yielded to the strange thought, tha_ontoni was become a captain of robbers. His character also, unprincipled, dauntless, cruel and enterprising, seemed to fit him for the situation.
Delighting in the tumult and in the struggles of life, he was equally _tranger to pity and to fear; his very courage was a sort of animal ferocity; not the noble impulse of a principle, such as inspirits the mind against th_ppressor, in the cause of the oppressed; but a constitutional hardiness o_erve, that cannot feel, and that, therefore, cannot fear.
Emily's supposition, however natural, was in part erroneous, for she was _tranger to the state of this country and to the circumstances, under whic_ts frequent wars were partly conducted. The revenues of the many states o_taly being, at that time, insufficient to the support of standing armies, even during the short periods, which the turbulent habits both of th_overnments and the people permitted to pass in peace, an order of men aros_ot known in our age, and but faintly described in the history of their own.
Of the soldiers, disbanded at the end of every war, few returned to the safe, but unprofitable occupations, then usual in peace. Sometimes they passed int_ther countries, and mingled with armies, which still kept the field.
Sometimes they formed themselves into bands of robbers, and occupied remot_ortresses, where their desperate character, the weakness of the government_hich they offended, and the certainty, that they could be recalled to th_rmies, when their presence should be again wanted, prevented them from bein_uch pursued by the civil power; and, sometimes, they attached themselves t_he fortunes of a popular chief, by whom they were led into the service of an_tate, which could settle with him the price of their valour. From this latte_ractice arose their name—CONDOTTIERI; a term formidable all over Italy, for _eriod, which concluded in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, but o_hich it is not so easy to ascertain the commencement.
Contests between the smaller states were then, for the most part, affairs o_nterprize alone, and the probabilities of success were estimated, not fro_he skill, but from the personal courage of the general, and the soldiers. Th_bility, which was necessary to the conduct of tedious operations, was littl_alued. It was enough to know how a party might be led towards their enemies, with the greatest secrecy, or conducted from them in the compactest order. Th_fficer was to precipitate himself into a situation, where, but for hi_xample, the soldiers might not have ventured; and, as the opposed partie_new little of each other's strength, the event of the day was frequentl_etermined by the boldness of the first movements. In such services th_ondottieri were eminent, and in these, where plunder always followed success, their characters acquired a mixture of intrepidity and profligacy, which awe_ven those whom they served.
When they were not thus engaged, their chief had usually his own fortress, i_hich, or in its neighbourhood, they enjoyed an irksome rest; and, thoug_heir wants were, at one time, partly supplied from the property of th_nhabitants, the lavish distribution of their plunder at others, prevente_hem from being obnoxious; and the peasants of such districts gradually share_he character of their warlike visitors. The neighbouring government_ometimes professed, but seldom endeavoured, to suppress these militar_ommunities; both because it was difficult to do so, and because a disguise_rotection of them ensured, for the service of their wars, a body of men, wh_ould not otherwise be so cheaply maintained, or so perfectly qualified. Th_ommanders sometimes even relied so far upon this policy of the severa_owers, as to frequent their capitals; and Montoni, having met them in th_aming parties of Venice and Padua, conceived a desire to emulate thei_haracters, before his ruined fortunes tempted him to adopt their practices.
It was for the arrangement of his present plan of life, that the midnigh_ouncils were held at his mansion in Venice, and at which Orsino and som_ther members of the present community then assisted with suggestions, whic_hey had since executed with the wreck of their fortunes.
On the return of night, Emily resumed her station at the casement. There wa_ow a moon; and, as it rose over the tufted woods, its yellow light served t_hew the lonely terrace and the surrounding objects, more distinctly, than th_wilight of the stars had done, and promised Emily to assist her observations, should the mysterious form return. On this subject, she again wavered i_onjecture, and hesitated whether to speak to the figure, to which a stron_nd almost irresistible interest urged her; but terror, at intervals, made he_eluctant to do so.
'If this is a person who has designs upon the castle,' said she, 'my curiosit_ay prove fatal to me; yet the mysterious music, and the lamentations I heard, must surely have proceeded from him: if so, he cannot be an enemy.'
She then thought of her unfortunate aunt, and, shuddering with grief an_orror, the suggestions of imagination seized her mind with all the force o_ruth, and she believed, that the form she had seen was supernatural. Sh_rembled, breathed with difficulty, an icy coldness touched her cheeks, an_er fears for a while overcame her judgment. Her resolution now forsook her, and she determined, if the figure should appear, not to speak to it.
Thus the time passed, as she sat at her casement, awed by expectation, and b_he gloom and stillness of midnight; for she saw obscurely in the moon-ligh_nly the mountains and woods, a cluster of towers, that formed the west angl_f the castle, and the terrace below; and heard no sound, except, now an_hen, the lonely watch- word, passed by the centinels on duty, and afterward_he steps of the men who came to relieve guard, and whom she knew at _istance on the rampart by their pikes, that glittered in the moonbeam, an_hen, by the few short words, in which they hailed their fellows of the night.
Emily retired within her chamber, while they passed the casement. When sh_eturned to it, all was again quiet. It was now very late, she was wearie_ith watching, and began to doubt the reality of what she had seen on th_receding night; but she still lingered at the window, for her mind was to_erturbed to admit of sleep. The moon shone with a clear lustre, that afforde_er a complete view of the terrace; but she saw only a solitary centinel, pacing at one end of it; and, at length, tired with expectation, she withdre_o seek rest.
Such, however, was the impression, left on her mind by the music, and th_omplaining she had formerly heard, as well as by the figure, which sh_ancied she had seen, that she determined to repeat the watch, on th_ollowing night.
Montoni, on the next day, took no notice of Emily's appointed visit, but she, more anxious than before to see him, sent Annette to enquire, at what hour h_ould admit her. He mentioned eleven o'clock, and Emily was punctual to th_oment; at which she called up all her fortitude to support the shock of hi_resence and the dreadful recollections it enforced. He was with several o_is officers, in the cedar room; on observing whom she paused; and he_gitation increased, while he continued to converse with them, apparently no_bserving her, till some of his officers, turning round, saw Emily, an_ttered an exclamation. She was hastily retiring, when Montoni's voic_rrested her, and, in a faultering accent, she said,—'I would speak with you, Signor Montoni, if you are at leisure.'
'These are my friends,' he replied, 'whatever you would say, they may hear.'
Emily, without replying, turned from the rude gaze of the chevaliers, an_ontoni then followed her to the hall, whence he led her to a small room, o_hich he shut the door with violence. As she looked on his dark countenance, she again thought she saw the murderer of her aunt; and her mind was s_onvulsed with horror, that she had not power to recal thought enough t_xplain the purport of her visit; and to trust herself with the mention o_adame Montoni was more than she dared.
Montoni at length impatiently enquired what she had to say? 'I have no tim_or trifling,' he added, 'my moments are important.'
Emily then told him, that she wished to return to France, and came to beg, that he would permit her to do so.—But when he looked surprised, and enquire_or the motive of the request, she hesitated, became paler than before, trembled, and had nearly sunk at his feet. He observed her emotion, wit_pparent indifference, and interrupted the silence by telling her, he must b_one. Emily, however, recalled her spirits sufficiently to enable her t_epeat her request. And, when Montoni absolutely refused it, her slumberin_ind was roused.
'I can no longer remain here with propriety, sir,' said she, 'and I may b_llowed to ask, by what right you detain me.'
'It is my will that you remain here,' said Montoni, laying his hand on th_oor to go; 'let that suffice you.'
Emily, considering that she had no appeal from this will, forbore to disput_is right, and made a feeble effort to persuade him to be just. 'While my aun_ived, sir,' said she, in a tremulous voice, 'my residence here was no_mproper; but now, that she is no more, I may surely be permitted to depart.
My stay cannot benefit you, sir, and will only distress me.'
'Who told you, that Madame Montoni was dead?' said Montoni, with a_nquisitive eye. Emily hesitated, for nobody had told her so, and she did no_are to avow the having seen that spectacle in the portal-chamber, which ha_ompelled her to the belief.
'Who told you so?' he repeated, more sternly.
'Alas! I know it too well,' replied Emily: 'spare me on this terribl_ubject!'
She sat down on a bench to support herself.
'If you wish to see her,' said Montoni, 'you may; she lies in the eas_urret.'
He now left the room, without awaiting her reply, and returned to the ceda_hamber, where such of the chevaliers as had not before seen Emily, began t_ally him, on the discovery they had made; but Montoni did not appear dispose_o bear this mirth, and they changed the subject.
Having talked with the subtle Orsino, on the plan of an excursion, which h_editated for a future day, his friend advised, that they should lie in wai_or the enemy, which Verezzi impetuously opposed, reproached Orsino with wan_f spirit, and swore, that, if Montoni would let him lead on fifty men, h_ould conquer all that should oppose him.
Orsino smiled contemptuously; Montoni smiled too, but he also listened.
Verezzi then proceeded with vehement declamation and assertion, till he wa_topped by an argument of Orsino, which he knew not how to answer better tha_y invective. His fierce spirit detested the cunning caution of Orsino, who_e constantly opposed, and whose inveterate, though silent, hatred he had lon_go incurred. And Montoni was a calm observer of both, whose differen_ualifications he knew, and how to bend their opposite character to th_erfection of his own designs. But Verezzi, in the heat of opposition, now di_ot scruple to accuse Orsino of cowardice, at which the countenance of th_atter, while he made no reply, was overspread with a livid paleness; an_ontoni, who watched his lurking eye, saw him put his hand hastily into hi_osom. But Verezzi, whose face, glowing with crimson, formed a strikin_ontrast to the complexion of Orsino, remarked not the action, and continue_oldly declaiming against cowards to Cavigni, who was slily laughing at hi_ehemence, and at the silent mortification of Orsino, when the latter, retiring a few steps behind, drew forth a stilletto to stab his adversary i_he back. Montoni arrested his half-extended arm, and, with a significan_ook, made him return the poinard into his bosom, unseen by all excep_imself; for most of the party were disputing at a distant window, on th_ituation of a dell where they meant to form an ambuscade.
When Verezzi had turned round, the deadly hatred, expressed on the features o_is opponent, raising, for the first time, a suspicion of his intention, h_aid his hand on his sword, and then, seeming to recollect himself, strode u_o Montoni.
'Signor,' said he, with a significant look at Orsino, 'we are not a band o_ssassins; if you have business for brave men employ me on this expedition: you shall have the last drop of my blood; if you have only work fo_owards—keep him,' pointing to Orsino, 'and let me quit Udolpho.'
Orsino, still more incensed, again drew forth his stilletto, and rushe_owards Verezzi, who, at the same instant, advanced with his sword, whe_ontoni and the rest of the party interfered and separated them.
'This is the conduct of a boy,' said Montoni to Verezzi, 'not of a man: b_ore moderate in your speech.'
'Moderation is the virtue of cowards,' retorted Verezzi; 'they are moderate i_very thing—but in fear.'
'I accept your words,' said Montoni, turning upon him with a fierce an_aughty look, and drawing his sword out of the scabbard.
'With all my heart,' cried Verezzi, 'though I did not mean them for you.'
He directed a pass at Montoni; and, while they fought, the villain Orsino mad_nother attempt to stab Verezzi, and was again prevented.
The combatants were, at length, separated; and, after a very long and violen_ispute, reconciled. Montoni then left the room with Orsino, whom he detaine_n private consultation for a considerable time.
Emily, meanwhile, stunned by the last words of Montoni, forgot, for th_oment, his declaration, that she should continue in the castle, while sh_hought of her unfortunate aunt, who, he had said, was laid in the eas_urret. In suffering the remains of his wife to lie thus long unburied, ther_ppeared a degree of brutality more shocking than she had suspected eve_ontoni could practise.
After a long struggle, she determined to accept his permission to visit th_urret, and to take a last look of her ill-fated aunt: with which design sh_eturned to her chamber, and, while she waited for Annette to accompany her, endeavoured to acquire fortitude sufficient to support her through th_pproaching scene; for, though she trembled to encounter it, she knew that t_emember the performance of this last act of duty would hereafter afford he_onsoling satisfaction.
Annette came, and Emily mentioned her purpose, from which the forme_ndeavoured to dissuade her, though without effect, and Annette was, with muc_ifficulty, prevailed upon to accompany her to the turret; but n_onsideration could make her promise to enter the chamber of death.
They now left the corridor, and, having reached the foot of the stair-case, which Emily had formerly ascended, Annette declared she would go no further, and Emily proceeded alone. When she saw the track of blood, which she ha_efore observed, her spirits fainted, and, being compelled to rest on th_tairs, she almost determined to proceed no further. The pause of a fe_oments restored her resolution, and she went on.
As she drew near the landing-place, upon which the upper chamber opened, sh_emembered, that the door was formerly fastened, and apprehended, that i_ight still be so. In this expectation, however, she was mistaken; for th_oor opened at once, into a dusky and silent chamber, round which sh_earfully looked, and then slowly advanced, when a hollow voice spoke. Emily, who was unable to speak, or to move from the spot, uttered no sound of terror.
The voice spoke again; and, then, thinking that it resembled that of Madam_ontoni, Emily's spirits were instantly roused; she rushed towards a bed, tha_tood in a remote part of the room, and drew aside the curtains. Within, appeared a pale and emaciated face. She started back, then again advanced, shuddered as she took up the skeleton hand, that lay stretched upon the quilt; then let it drop, and then viewed the face with a long, unsettled gaze. It wa_hat of Madame Montoni, though so changed by illness, that the resemblance o_hat it had been, could scarcely be traced in what it now appeared. she wa_till alive, and, raising her heavy eyes, she turned them on her niece.
'Where have you been so long?' said she, in the same hollow tone, 'I though_ou had forsaken me.'
'Do you indeed live,' said Emily, at length, 'or is this but a terribl_pparition?' she received no answer, and again she snatched up the hand. 'Thi_s substance,' she exclaimed, 'but it is cold— cold as marble!' She let i_all. 'O, if you really live, speak!' said Emily, in a voice of desperation,
'that I may not lose my senses—say you know me!'
'I do live,' replied Madame Montoni, 'but—I feel that I am about to die.'
Emily clasped the hand she held, more eagerly, and groaned. They were bot_ilent for some moments. Then Emily endeavoured to soothe her, and enquire_hat had reduced her to this present deplorable state.
Montoni, when he removed her to the turret under the improbable suspicion o_aving attempted his life, had ordered the men employed on the occasion, t_bserve a strict secrecy concerning her. To this he was influenced by a doubl_otive. He meant to debar her from the comfort of Emily's visits, and t_ecure an opportunity of privately dispatching her, should any ne_ircumstances occur to confirm the present suggestions of his suspecting mind.
His consciousness of the hatred he deserved it was natural enough should a_irst led him to attribute to her the attempt that had been made upon hi_ife; and, though there was no other reason to believe that she was concerne_n that atrocious design, his suspicions remained; he continued to confine he_n the turret, under a strict guard; and, without pity or remorse, ha_uffered her to lie, forlorn and neglected, under a raging fever, till it ha_educed her to the present state.
The track of blood, which Emily had seen on the stairs, had flowed from th_nbound wound of one of the men employed to carry Madame Montoni, and which h_ad received in the late affray. At night these men, having contente_hemselves with securing the door of their prisoner's room, had retired fro_uard; and then it was, that Emily, at the time of her first enquiry, ha_ound the turret so silent and deserted.
When she had attempted to open the door of the chamber, her aunt was sleeping, and this occasioned the silence, which had contributed to delude her into _elief, that she was no more; yet had her terror permitted her to persever_onger in the call, she would probably have awakened Madame Montoni, and hav_een spared much suffering. The spectacle in the portal-chamber, whic_fterwards confirmed Emily's horrible suspicion, was the corpse of a man, wh_ad fallen in the affray, and the same which had been borne into the servants'
hall, where she took refuge from the tumult. This man had lingered under hi_ounds for some days; and, soon after his death, his body had been removed o_he couch, on which he died, for interment in the vault beneath the chapel, through which Emily and Barnardine had passed to the chamber.
Emily, after asking Madame Montoni a thousand questions concerning herself, left her, and sought Montoni; for the more solemn interest she felt for he_unt, made her now regardless of the resentment her remonstrances might dra_pon herself, and of the improbability of his granting what she meant t_ntreat.
'Madame Montoni is now dying, sir,' said Emily, as soon as she saw him—'You_esentment, surely will not pursue her to the last moment! Suffer her to b_emoved from that forlorn room to her own apartment, and to have necessar_omforts administered.'
'Of what service will that be, if she is dying?' said Montoni, with apparen_ndifference.
'The service, at leave, of saving you, sir, from a few of those pangs o_onscience you must suffer, when you shall be in the same situation,' sai_mily, with imprudent indignation, of which Montoni soon made her sensible, b_ommanding her to quit his presence. Then, forgetting her resentment, an_mpressed only by compassion for the piteous state of her aunt, dying withou_uccour, she submitted to humble herself to Montoni, and to adopt ever_ersuasive means, that might induce him to relent towards his wife.
For a considerable time he was proof against all she said, and all she looked; but at length the divinity of pity, beaming in Emily's eyes, seemed to touc_is heart. He turned away, ashamed of his better feelings, half sullen an_alf relenting; but finally consented, that his wife should be removed to he_wn apartment, and that Emily should attend her. Dreading equally, that thi_elief might arrive too late, and that Montoni might retract his concession, Emily scarcely staid to thank him for it, but, assisted by Annette, sh_uickly prepared Madame Montoni's bed, and they carried her a cordial, tha_ight enable her feeble frame to sustain the fatigue of a removal.
Madame was scarcely arrived in her own apartment, when an order was given b_er husband, that she should remain in the turret; but Emily, thankful tha_he had made such dispatch, hastened to inform him of it, as well as that _econd removal would instantly prove fatal, and he suffered his wife t_ontinue where she was.
During this day, Emily never left Madame Montoni, except to prepare suc_ittle nourishing things as she judged necessary to sustain her, and whic_adame Montoni received with quiet acquiescence, though she seemed sensibl_hat they could not save her from approaching dissolution, and scarcel_ppeared to wish for life. Emily meanwhile watched over her with the mos_ender solicitude, no longer seeing her imperious aunt in the poor objec_efore her, but the sister of her late beloved father, in a situation tha_alled for all her compassion and kindness. When night came, she determined t_it up with her aunt, but this the latter positively forbade, commanding he_o retire to rest, and Annette alone to remain in her chamber. Rest was, indeed, necessary to Emily, whose spirits and frame were equally wearied b_he occurrences and exertions of the day; but she would not leave Madam_ontoni, till after the turn of midnight, a period then thought so critical b_he physicians.
Soon after twelve, having enjoined Annette to be wakeful, and to call her, should any change appear for the worse, Emily sorrowfully bade Madame Monton_ood night, and withdrew to her chamber. Her spirits were more than usuall_epressed by the piteous condition of her aunt, whose recovery she scarcel_ared to expect. To her own misfortunes she saw no period, inclosed as sh_as, in a remote castle, beyond the reach of any friends, had she possesse_uch, and beyond the pity even of strangers; while she knew herself to be i_he power of a man capable of any action, which his interest, or his ambition, might suggest.
Occupied by melancholy reflections and by anticipations as sad, she did no_etire immediately to rest, but leaned thoughtfully on her open casement. Th_cene before her of woods and mountains, reposing in the moon-light, formed _egretted contrast with the state of her mind; but the lonely murmur of thes_oods, and the view of this sleeping landscape, gradually soothed her emotion_nd softened her to tears.
She continued to weep, for some time, lost to every thing, but to a gentl_ense of her misfortunes. When she, at length, took the handkerchief from he_yes, she perceived, before her, on the terrace below, the figure she ha_ormerly observed, which stood fixed and silent, immediately opposite to he_asement. On perceiving it, she started back, and terror for some tim_vercame curiosity;—at length, she returned to the casement, and still th_igure was before it, which she now compelled herself to observe, but wa_tterly unable to speak, as she had formerly intended. The moon shone with _lear light, and it was, perhaps, the agitation of her mind, that prevente_er distinguishing, with any degree of accuracy, the form before her. It wa_till stationary, and she began to doubt, whether it was really animated.
Her scattered thoughts were now so far returned as to remind her, that he_ight exposed her to dangerous observation, and she was stepping back t_emove it, when she perceived the figure move, and then wave what seemed to b_ts arm, as if to beckon her; and, while she gazed, fixed in fear, it repeate_he action. She now attempted to speak, but the words died on her lips, an_he went from the casement to remove her light; as she was doing which, sh_eard, from without, a faint groan. Listening, but not daring to return, sh_resently heard it repeated.
'Good God!—what can this mean!' said she.
Again she listened, but the sound came no more; and, after a long interval o_ilence, she recovered courage enough to go to the casement, when she agai_aw the same appearance! It beckoned again, and again uttered a low sound.
'That groan was surely human!' said she. 'I WILL speak.' 'Who is it,' crie_mily in a faint voice, 'that wanders at this late hour?'
The figure raised its head but suddenly started away, and glided down th_errace. She watched it, for a long while, passing swiftly in the moon-light, but heard no footstep, till a sentinel from the other extremity of the rampar_alked slowly along. The man stopped under her window, and, looking up, calle_er by name. She was retiring precipitately, but, a second summons inducin_er to reply, the soldier then respectfully asked if she had seen any thin_ass. On her answering, that she had; he said no more, but walked away dow_he terrace, Emily following him with her eyes, till he was lost in th_istance. But, as he was on guard, she knew he could not go beyond th_ampart, and, therefore, resolved to await his return.
Soon after, his voice was heard, at a distance, calling loudly; and then _oice still more distant answered, and, in the next moment, the watch-word wa_iven, and passed along the terrace. As the soldiers moved hastily under th_asement, she called to enquire what had happened, but they passed withou_egarding her.
Emily's thoughts returning to the figure she had seen, 'It cannot be a person, who has designs upon the castle,' said she; 'such an one would conduct himsel_ery differently. He would not venture where sentinels were on watch, nor fi_imself opposite to a window, where he perceived he must be observed; muc_ess would he beckon, or utter a sound of complaint. Yet it cannot be _risoner, for how could he obtain the opportunity to wander thus?'
If she had been subject to vanity, she might have supposed this figure to b_ome inhabitant of the castle, who wandered under her casement in the hope o_eeing her, and of being allowed to declare his admiration; but this opinio_ever occurred to Emily, and, if it had, she would have dismissed it a_mprobable, on considering, that, when the opportunity of speaking ha_ccurred, it had been suffered to pass in silence; and that, even at th_oment in which she had spoken, the form had abruptly quitted the place.
While she mused, two sentinels walked up the rampart in earnest conversation, of which she caught a few words, and learned from these, that one of thei_omrades had fallen down senseless. Soon after, three other soldiers appeare_lowly advancing from the bottom of the terrace, but she heard only a lo_oice, that came at intervals. As they drew near, she perceived this to be th_oice of him, who walked in the middle, apparently supported by his comrades; and she again called to them, enquiring what had happened. At the sound of he_oice, they stopped, and looked up, while she repeated her question, and wa_old, that Roberto, their fellow of the watch, had been seized with a fit, an_hat his cry, as he fell, had caused a false alarm.
'Is he subject to fits?' said Emily.
'Yes, Signora,' replied Roberto; 'but if I had not, what I saw was enough t_ave frightened the Pope himself.'
'What was it?' enquired Emily, trembling.
'I cannot tell what it was, lady, or what I saw, or how it vanished,' replie_he soldier, who seemed to shudder at the recollection.
'Was it the person, whom you followed down the rampart, that has occasione_ou this alarm?' said Emily, endeavouring to conceal her own.
'Person!' exclaimed the man,—'it was the devil, and this is not the first tim_ have seen him!'
'Nor will it be the last,' observed one of his comrades, laughing.
'No, no, I warrant not,' said another.
'Well,' rejoined Roberto, 'you may be as merry now, as you please; you wa_one so jocose the other night, Sebastian, when you was on watch wit_auncelot.'
"Launcelot need not talk of that,' replied Sebastian, 'let him remember how h_tood trembling, and unable to give the WORD, till the man was gone, If th_an had not come so silently upon us, I would have seized him, and soon mad_im tell who he was.'
'What man?' enquired Emily.
'It was no man, lady,' said Launcelot, who stood by, 'but the devil himself, as my comrade says. What man, who does not live in the castle, could ge_ithin the walls at midnight? Why, I might just as well pretend to march t_enice, and get among all the Senators, when they are counselling; and _arrant I should have more chance of getting out again alive, than any fellow, that we should catch within the gates after dark. So I think I have prove_lainly enough, that this can be nobody that lives out of the castle; and no_ will prove, that it can be nobody that lives in the castle—for, if h_id—why should he be afraid to be seen? So after this, I hope nobody wil_retend to tell me it was anybody. No, I say again, by holy Pope! it was th_evil, and Sebastian, there, knows this is not the first time we have see_im.'
'When did you see the figure, then, before?' said Emily half smiling, who, though she thought the conversation somewhat too much, felt an interest, whic_ould not permit her to conclude it.
'About a week ago, lady,' said Sebastian, taking up the story.
'On the rampart, lady, higher up.'
'Did you pursue it, that it fled?'
'No, Signora. Launcelot and I were on watch together, and every thing was s_till, you might have heard a mouse stir, when, suddenly, Launcelo_ays—Sebastian! do you see nothing? I turned my head a little to the left, a_t might be—thus. No, says I. Hush! said Launcelot,—look yonder—just by th_ast cannon on the rampart! I looked, and then thought I did see somethin_ove; but there being no light, but what the stars gave, I could not b_ertain. We stood quite silent, to watch it, and presently saw something pas_long the castle wall just opposite to us!'
'Why did you not seize it, then?' cried a soldier, who had scarcely spoke_ill now.
'Aye, why did you not seize it?' said Roberto.
'You should have been there to have done that,' replied Sebastian. 'You woul_ave been bold enough to have taken it by the throat, though it had been th_evil himself; we could not take such a liberty, perhaps, because we are no_o well acquainted with him, as you are. But, as I was saying, it stole by u_o quickly, that we had not time to get rid of our surprise, before it wa_one. Then, we knew it was in vain to follow. We kept constant watch all tha_ight, but we saw it no more. Next morning, we told some of our comrades, wh_ere on duty on other parts of the ramparts, what we had seen; but they ha_een nothing, and laughed at us, and it was not till to-night, that the sam_igure walked again.'
'Where did you lose it, friend?' said Emily to Roberto.
'When I left you, lady,' replied the man, 'you might see me go down th_ampart, but it was not till I reached the east terrace, that I saw any thing.
Then, the moon shining bright, I saw something like a shadow flitting befor_e, as it were, at some distance. I stopped, when I turned the corner of th_ast tower, where I had seen this figure not a moment before,—but it was gone!
As I stood, looking through the old arch, which leads to the east rampart, an_here I am sure it had passed, I heard, all of a sudden, such a sound!—it wa_ot like a groan, or a cry, or a shout, or any thing I ever heard in my life.
I heard it only once, and that was enough for me; for I know nothing tha_appened after, till I found my comrades, here, about me.'
'Come,' said Sebastian, 'let us go to our posts—the moon is setting. Goo_ight, lady!'
'Aye, let us go,' rejoined Roberto. 'Good night, lady.'
'Good night; the holy mother guard you!' said Emily, as she closed he_asement and retired to reflect upon the strange circumstance that had jus_ccurred, connecting which with what had happened on former nights, sh_ndeavoured to derive from the whole something more positive, than conjecture.
But her imagination was inflamed, while her judgment was not enlightened, an_he terrors of superstition again pervaded her mind.