> My tongue hath but a heavier tale to say. I play the torturer, by small an_mall, To lengthen out the worst that must be spoken.
> RICHARD II
We now return, for a moment, to Venice, where Count Morano was suffering unde_n accumulation of misfortunes. Soon after his arrival in that city, he ha_een arrested by order of the Senate, and, without knowing of what he wa_uspected, was conveyed to a place of confinement, whither the most strenuou_nquiries of his friends had been unable to trace him. Who the enemy was, tha_ad occasioned him this calamity, he had not been able to guess, unless, indeed, it was Montoni, on whom his suspicions rested, and not only with muc_pparent probability, but with justice.
In the affair of the poisoned cup, Montoni had suspected Morano; but, bein_nable to obtain the degree of proof, which was necessary to convict him of _uilty intention, he had recourse to means of other revenge, than he coul_ope to obtain by prosecution. He employed a person, in whom he believed h_ight confide, to drop a letter of accusation into the DENUNZIE SECRETE, o_ions' mouths, which are fixed in a gallery of the Doge's palace, a_eceptacles for anonymous information, concerning persons, who may b_isaffected towards the state. As, on these occasions, the accuser is no_onfronted with the accused, a man may falsely impeach his enemy, an_ccomplish an unjust revenge, without fear of punishment, or detection. Tha_ontoni should have recourse to these diabolical means of ruining a person, whom he suspected of having attempted his life, is not in the leas_urprising. In the letter, which he had employed as the instrument of hi_evenge, he accused Morano of designs against the state, which he attempted t_rove, with all the plausible simplicity of which he was master; and th_enate, with whom a suspicion was, at that time, almost equal to a proof, arrested the Count, in consequence of this accusation; and, without eve_inting to him his crime, threw him into one of those secret prisons, whic_ere the terror of the Venetians, and in which persons often languished, an_ometimes died, without being discovered by their friends.
Morano had incurred the personal resentment of many members of the state; hi_abits of life had rendered him obnoxious to some; and his ambition, and th_old rivalship, which he discovered, on several public occasions,—to others; and it was not to be expected, that mercy would soften the rigour of a law, which was to be dispensed from the hands of his enemies.
Montoni, meantime, was beset by dangers of another kind. His castle wa_esieged by troops, who seemed willing to dare every thing, and to suffe_atiently any hardships in pursuit of victory. The strength of the fortress, however, withstood their attack, and this, with the vigorous defence of th_arrison and the scarcity of provision on these wild mountains, soon compelle_he assailants to raise the siege.
When Udolpho was once more left to the quiet possession of Montoni, h_ispatched Ugo into Tuscany for Emily, whom he had sent from considerations o_er personal safety, to a place of greater security, than a castle, which was, at that time, liable to be overrun by his enemies. Tranquillity being onc_ore restored to Udolpho, he was impatient to secure her again under his roof, and had commissioned Ugo to assist Bertrand in guarding her back to th_astle. Thus compelled to return, Emily bade the kind Maddelina farewell, wit_egret, and, after about a fortnight's stay in Tuscany, where she ha_xperienced an interval of quiet, which was absolutely necessary to sustai_er long-harassed spirits, began once more to ascend the Apennines, from whos_eights she gave a long and sorrowful look to the beautiful country, tha_xtended at their feet, and to the distant Mediterranean, whose waves she ha_o often wished would bear her back to France. The distress she felt, on he_eturn towards the place of her former sufferings, was, however, softened by _onjecture, that Valancourt was there, and she found some degree of comfort i_he thought of being near him, notwithstanding the consideration, that he wa_robably a prisoner.
It was noon, when she had left the cottage, and the evening was closed, lon_efore she came within the neighbourhood of Udolpho. There was a moon, but i_hone only at intervals, for the night was cloudy, and, lighted by the torch, which Ugo carried, the travellers paced silently along, Emily musing on he_ituation, and Bertrand and Ugo anticipating the comforts of a flask of win_nd a good fire, for they had perceived for some time the difference betwee_he warm climate of the lowlands of Tuscany and the nipping air of these uppe_egions. Emily was, at length, roused from her reverie by the far- off soun_f the castle clock, to which she listened not without some degree of awe, a_t rolled away on the breeze. Another and another note succeeded, and died i_ullen murmur among the mountains:—to her mournful imagination it seemed _nell measuring out some fateful period for her.
'Aye, there is the old clock,' said Bertrand, 'there he is still; the canno_ave not silenced him!'
'No,' answered Ugo, 'he crowed as loud as the best of them in the midst of i_ll. There he was roaring out in the hottest fire I have seen this many a day!
I said that some of them would have a hit at the old fellow, but he escaped, and the tower too.'
The road winding round the base of a mountain, they now came within view o_he castle, which was shewn in the perspective of the valley by a gleam o_oon-shine, and then vanished in shade; while even a transient view of it ha_wakened the poignancy of Emily's feelings. Its massy and gloomy walls gav_er terrible ideas of imprisonment and suffering: yet, as she advanced, som_egree of hope mingled with her terror; for, though this was certainly th_esidence of Montoni, it was possibly, also, that of Valancourt, and she coul_ot approach a place, where he might be, without experiencing somewhat of th_oy of hope.
They continued to wind along the valley, and, soon after, she saw again th_ld walls and moon-lit towers, rising over the woods: the strong rays enable_er, also, to perceive the ravages, which the siege had made,—with the broke_alls, and shattered battlements, for they were now at the foot of the steep, on which Udolpho stood. Massy fragments had rolled down among the woods, through which the travellers now began to ascend, and there mingled with th_oose earth, and pieces of rock they had brought with them. The woods, too, had suffered much from the batteries above, for here the enemy had endeavoure_o screen themselves from the fire of the ramparts. Many noble trees wer_evelled with the ground, and others, to a wide extent, were entirely strippe_f their upper branches. 'We had better dismount,' said Ugo, 'and lead th_ules up the hill, or we shall get into some of the holes, which the ball_ave left. Here are plenty of them. Give me the torch,' continued Ugo, afte_hey had dismounted, 'and take care you don't stumble over any thing, tha_ies in your way, for the ground is not yet cleared of the enemy.'
'How!' exclaimed Emily, 'are any of the enemy here, then?'
'Nay, I don't know for that, now,' he replied, 'but when I came away I saw on_r two of them lying under the trees.'
As they proceeded, the torch threw a gloomy light upon the ground, and fa_mong the recesses of the woods, and Emily feared to look forward, lest som_bject of horror should meet her eye. The path was often strewn with broke_eads of arrows, and with shattered remains of armour, such as at that perio_as mingled with the lighter dress of the soldiers. 'Bring the light hither,'
said Bertrand, 'I have stumbled over something, that rattles loud enough.' Ug_olding up the torch, they perceived a steel breastplate on the ground, whic_ertrand raised, and they saw, that it was pierced through, and that th_ining was entirely covered with blood; but upon Emily's earnest entreaties, that they would proceed, Bertrand, uttering some joke upon the unfortunat_erson, to whom it had belonged, threw it hard upon the ground, and the_assed on.
At every step she took, Emily feared to see some vestige of death. Coming soo_fter to an opening in the woods, Bertrand stopped to survey the ground, whic_as encumbered with massy trunks and branches of the trees, that had so latel_dorned it, and seemed to have been a spot particularly fatal to th_esiegers; for it was evident from the destruction of the trees, that here th_ottest fire of the garrison had been directed. As Ugo held again forth th_orch, steel glittered between the fallen trees; the ground beneath wa_overed with broken arms, and with the torn vestments of soldiers, whos_angled forms Emily almost expected to see; and she again entreated he_ompanions to proceed, who were, however, too intent in their examination, t_egard her, and she turned her eyes from this desolated scene to the castl_bove, where she observed lights gliding along the ramparts. Presently, th_astle clock struck twelve, and then a trumpet sounded, of which Emil_nquired the occasion.
'O! they are only changing watch,' replied Ugo. 'I do not remember thi_rumpet,' said Emily, 'it is a new custom.' 'It is only an old one revived, lady; we always use it in time of war. We have sounded it, at midnight, eve_ince the place was besieged.'
'Hark!' said Emily, as the trumpet sounded again; and, in the next moment, sh_eard a faint clash of arms, and then the watchword passed along the terrac_bove, and was answered from a distant part of the castle; after which all wa_gain still. She complained of cold, and begged to go on. 'Presently, lady,'
said Bertrand, turning over some broken arms with the pike he usually carried.
'What have we here?'
'Hark!' cried Emily, 'what noise was that?'
'What noise was it?' said Ugo, starting up and listening.
'Hush!' repeated Emily. 'It surely came from the ramparts above:' and, o_ooking up, they perceived a light moving along the walls, while, in the nex_nstant, the breeze swelling, the voice sounded louder than before.
'Who goes yonder?' cried a sentinel of the castle. 'Speak or it will be wors_or you.' Bertrand uttered a shout of joy. 'Hah! my brave comrade, is it you?'
said he, and he blew a shrill whistle, which signal was answered by anothe_rom the soldier on watch; and the party, then passing forward, soon afte_merged from the woods upon the broken road, that led immediately to th_astle gates, and Emily saw, with renewed terror, the whole of that stupendou_tructure. 'Alas!' said she to herself, 'I am going again into my prison!'
'Here has been warm work, by St. Marco!' cried Bertrand, waving a torch ove_he ground; 'the balls have torn up the earth here with a vengeance.'
'Aye,' replied Ugo, 'they were fired from that redoubt, yonder, and rar_xecution they did. The enemy made a furious attack upon the great gates; bu_hey might have guessed they could never carry it there; for, besides th_annon from the walls, our archers, on the two round towers, showered dow_pon them at such a rate, that, by holy Peter! there was no standing it. _ever saw a better sight in my life; I laughed, till my sides aked, to see ho_he knaves scampered. Bertrand, my good fellow, thou shouldst have been amon_hem; I warrant thou wouldst have won the race!'
'Hah! you are at your old tricks again,' said Bertrand in a surly tone. 'It i_ell for thee thou art so near the castle; thou knowest I have killed my ma_efore now.' Ugo replied only by a laugh, and then gave some further accoun_f the siege, to which as Emily listened, she was struck by the stron_ontrast of the present scene with that which had so lately been acted here.
The mingled uproar of cannon, drums, and trumpets, the groans of th_onquered, and the shouts of the conquerors were now sunk into a silence s_rofound, that it seemed as if death had triumphed alike over the vanquishe_nd the victor. The shattered condition of one of the towers of the grea_ates by no means confirmed the VALIANT account just given by Ugo of th_campering party, who, it was evident, had not only made a stand, but had don_uch mischief before they took to flight; for this tower appeared, as far a_mily could judge by the dim moon-light that fell upon it, to be laid open, and the battlements were nearly demolished. While she gazed, a light glimmere_hrough one of the lower loop-holes, and disappeared; but, in the next moment, she perceived through the broken wall, a soldier, with a lamp, ascending th_arrow staircase, that wound within the tower, and, remembering that it wa_he same she had passed up, on the night, when Barnardine had deluded her wit_ promise of seeing Madame Montoni, fancy gave her somewhat of the terror sh_ad then suffered. She was now very near the gates, over which the soldie_aving opened the door of the portal-chamber, the lamp he carried gave her _usky view of that terrible apartment, and she almost sunk under th_ecollected horrors of the moment, when she had drawn aside the curtain, an_iscovered the object it was meant to conceal.
'Perhaps,' said she to herself, 'it is now used for a similar purpose; perhaps, that soldier goes, at this dead hour, to watch over the corpse of hi_riend!' The little remains of her fortitude now gave way to the united forc_f remembered and anticipated horrors, for the melancholy fate of Madam_ontoni appeared to foretell her own. She considered, that, though th_anguedoc estates, if she relinquished them, would satisfy Montoni's avarice, they might not appease his vengeance, which was seldom pacified but by _errible sacrifice; and she even thought, that, were she to resign them, th_ear of justice might urge him either to detain her a prisoner, or to tak_way her life.
They were now arrived at the gates, where Bertrand, observing the ligh_limmer through a small casement of the portal-chamber, called aloud; and th_oldier, looking out, demanded who was there. 'Here, I have brought you _risoner,' said Ugo, 'open the gate, and let us in.'
'Tell me first who it is, that demands entrance,' replied the soldier. 'What!
my old comrade,' cried Ugo, 'don't you know me? not know Ugo? I have brough_ome a prisoner here, bound hand and foot— a fellow, who has been drinkin_uscany wine, while we here have been fighting.'
'You will not rest till you meet with your match,' said Bertrand sullenly.
'Hah! my comrade, is it you?' said the soldier—'I'll be with you directly.'
Emily presently heard his steps descending the stairs within, and then th_eavy chain fall, and the bolts undraw of a small postern door, which h_pened to admit the party. He held the lamp low, to shew the step of the gate, and she found herself once more beneath the gloomy arch, and heard the doo_lose, that seemed to shut her from the world for ever. In the next moment, she was in the first court of the castle, where she surveyed the spacious an_olitary area, with a kind of calm despair; while the dead hour of the night, the gothic gloom of the surrounding buildings, and the hollow and imperfec_choes, which they returned, as Ugo and the soldier conversed together, assisted to increase the melancholy forebodings of her heart. Passing on t_he second court, a distant sound broke feebly on the silence, and graduall_welling louder, as they advanced, Emily distinguished voices of revelry an_aughter, but they were to her far other than sounds of joy. 'Why, you hav_ot some Tuscany wine among you, HERE,' said Bertrand, 'if one may judge b_he uproar that is going forward. Ugo has taken a larger share of that than o_ighting, I'll be sworn. Who is carousing at this late hour?'
'His excellenza and the Signors,' replied the soldier: 'it is a sign you are _tranger at the castle, or you would not need to ask the question. They ar_rave spirits, that do without sleep—they generally pass the night in goo_heer; would that we, who keep the watch, had a little of it! It is cold work, pacing the ramparts so many hours of the night, if one has no good liquor t_arm one's heart.'
'Courage, my lad, courage ought to warm your heart,' said Ugo. 'Courage!'
replied the soldier sharply, with a menacing air, which Ugo perceiving, prevented his saying more, by returning to the subject of the carousal. 'Thi_s a new custom,' said he; 'when I left the castle, the Signors used to sit u_ounselling.'
'Aye, and for that matter, carousing too,' replied the soldier, 'but, sinc_he siege, they have done nothing but make merry: and if I was they, I woul_ettle accounts with myself, for all my hard fighting, the same way.'
They had now crossed the second court, and reached the hall door, when th_oldier, bidding them good night, hastened back to his post; and, while the_aited for admittance, Emily considered how she might avoid seeing Montoni, and retire unnoticed to her former apartment, for she shrunk from the though_f encountering either him, or any of his party, at this hour. The uproa_ithin the castle was now so loud, that, though Ugo knocked repeatedly at th_all door, he was not heard by any of the servants, a circumstance, whic_ncreased Emily's alarm, while it allowed her time to deliberate on the mean_f retiring unobserved; for, though she might, perhaps, pass up the grea_tair-case unseen, it was impossible she could find the way to her chamber, without a light, the difficulty of procuring which, and the danger o_andering about the castle, without one, immediately struck her. Bertrand ha_nly a torch, and she knew, that the servants never brought a taper to th_oor, for the hall was sufficiently lighted by the large tripod lamp, whic_ung in the vaulted roof; and, while she should wait till Annette could brin_ taper, Montoni, or some of his companions, might discover her.
The door was now opened by Carlo; and Emily, having requested him to sen_nnette immediately with a light to the great gallery, where she determined t_wait her, passed on with hasty steps towards the stair-case; while Bertran_nd Ugo, with the torch, followed old Carlo to the servants' hall, impatien_or supper and the warm blaze of a wood fire. Emily, lighted only by th_eeble rays, which the lamp above threw between the arches of this extensiv_all, endeavoured to find her way to the stair-case, now hid in obscurity; while the shouts of merriment, that burst from a remote apartment, served, b_eightening her terror, to increase her perplexity, and she expected, ever_nstant, to see the door of that room open, and Montoni and his companion_ssue forth. Having, at length, reached the stair-case, and found her way t_he top, she seated herself on the last stair, to await the arrival o_nnette; for the profound darkness of the gallery deterred her from proceedin_arther, and, while she listened for her footstep, she heard only distan_ounds of revelry, which rose in sullen echoes from among the arcades below.
Once she thought she heard a low sound from the dark gallery behind her; and, turning her eyes, fancied she saw something luminous move in it; and, sinc_he could not, at this moment, subdue the weakness that caused her fears, sh_uitted her seat, and crept softly down a few stairs lower.
Annette not yet appearing, Emily now concluded, that she was gone to bed, an_hat nobody chose to call her up; and the prospect, that presented itself, o_assing the night in darkness, in this place, or in some other equally forlorn (for she knew it would be impracticable to find her way through th_ntricacies of the galleries to her chamber), drew tears of mingled terror an_espondency from her eyes.
While thus she sat, she fancied she heard again an odd sound from the gallery, and she listened, scarcely daring to breathe, but the increasing voices belo_vercame every other sound. Soon after, she heard Montoni and his companion_urst into the hall, who spoke, as if they were much intoxicated, and seeme_o be advancing towards the stair-case. She now remembered, that they mus_ome this way to their chambers, and, forgetting all the terrors of th_allery, hurried towards it with an intention of secreting herself in some o_he passages, that opened beyond, and of endeavouring, when the Signors wer_etired, to find her way to her own room, or to that of Annette, which was i_ remote part of the castle.
With extended arms, she crept along the gallery, still hearing the voices o_ersons below, who seemed to stop in conversation at the foot of the stair- case, and then pausing for a moment to listen, half fearful of going furthe_nto the darkness of the gallery, where she still imagined, from the noise sh_ad heard, that some person was lurking, 'They are already informed of m_rrival,' said she, 'and Montoni is coming himself to seek me! In the presen_tate of his mind, his purpose must be desperate.' Then, recollecting th_cene, that had passed in the corridor, on the night preceding her departur_rom the castle, 'O Valancourt!' said she, 'I must then resign you for ever.
To brave any longer the injustice of Montoni, would not be fortitude, bu_ashness.' Still the voices below did not draw nearer, but they became louder, and she distinguished those of Verezzi and Bertolini above the rest, while th_ew words she caught made her listen more anxiously for others. Th_onversation seemed to concern herself; and, having ventured to step a fe_aces nearer to the stair-case, she discovered, that they were disputing abou_er, each seeming to claim some former promise of Montoni, who appeared, a_irst, inclined to appease and to persuade them to return to their wine, bu_fterwards to be weary of the dispute, and, saying that he left them to settl_t as they could, was returning with the rest of the party to the apartment h_ad just quitted. Verezzi then stopped him. 'Where is she? Signor,' said he, in a voice of impatience: 'tell us where she is.' 'I have already told yo_hat I do not know,' replied Montoni, who seemed to be somewhat overcome wit_ine; 'but she is most probably gone to her apartment.' Verezzi and Bertolin_ow desisted from their enquiries, and sprang to the stair-case together, while Emily, who, during this discourse, had trembled so excessively, that sh_ad with difficulty supported herself, seemed inspired with new strength, th_oment she heard the sound of their steps, and ran along the gallery, dark a_t was, with the fleetness of a fawn. But, long before she reached it_xtremity, the light, which Verezzi carried, flashed upon the walls; bot_ppeared, and, instantly perceiving Emily, pursued her. At this moment, Bertolini, whose steps, though swift, were not steady, and whose impatienc_vercame what little caution he had hitherto used, stumbled, and fell at hi_ength. The lamp fell with him, and was presently expiring on the floor; bu_erezzi, regardless of saving it, seized the advantage this accident gave hi_ver his rival, and followed Emily, to whom, however, the light had shown on_f the passages that branched from the gallery, and she instantly turned int_t. Verezzi could just discern the way she had taken, and this he pursued; bu_he sound of her steps soon sunk in distance, while he, less acquainted wit_he passage, was obliged to proceed through the dark, with caution, lest h_hould fall down a flight of steps, such as in this extensive old castl_requently terminated an avenue. This passage at length brought Emily to th_orridor, into which her own chamber opened, and, not hearing any footstep, she paused to take breath, and consider what was the safest design to b_dopted. She had followed this passage, merely because it was the first tha_ppeared, and now that she had reached the end of it, was as perplexed a_efore. Whither to go, or how further to find her way in the dark, she kne_ot; she was aware only that she must not seek her apartment, for there sh_ould certainly be sought, and her danger increased every instant, while sh_emained near it. Her spirits and her breath, however, were so much exhausted, that she was compelled to rest, for a few minutes, at the end of the passage, and still she heard no steps approaching. As thus she stood, light glimmere_nder an opposite door of the gallery, and, from its situation, she knew, tha_t was the door of that mysterious chamber, where she had made a discovery s_hocking, that she never remembered it but with the utmost horror. That ther_hould be light in this chamber, and at this hour, excited her stron_urprise, and she felt a momentary terror concerning it, which did not permi_er to look again, for her spirits were now in such a state of weakness, tha_he almost expected to see the door slowly open, and some horrible objec_ppear at it. Still she listened for a step along the passage, and looked u_t, where, not a ray of light appearing, she concluded, that Verezzi had gon_ack for the lamp; and, believing that he would shortly be there, she agai_onsidered which way she should go, or rather which way she could find in th_ark.
A faint ray still glimmered under the opposite door, but so great, and, perhaps, so just was her horror of that chamber, that she would not again hav_empted its secrets, though she had been certain of obtaining the light s_mportant to her safety. She was still breathing with difficulty, and restin_t the end of the passage, when she heard a rustling sound, and then a lo_oice, so very near her, that it seemed close to her ear; but she had presenc_f mind to check her emotions, and to remain quite still; in the next moment, she perceived it to be the voice of Verezzi, who did not appear to know, tha_he was there, but to have spoken to himself. 'The air is fresher here,' sai_e: 'this should be the corridor.' Perhaps, he was one of those heroes, whos_ourage can defy an enemy better than darkness, and he tried to rally hi_pirits with the sound of his own voice. However this might be, he turned t_he right, and proceeded, with the same stealing steps, towards Emily'_partment, apparently forgetting, that, in darkness, she could easily elud_is search, even in her chamber; and, like an intoxicated person, he followe_ertinaciously the one idea, that had possessed his imagination.
The moment she heard his steps steal away, she left her station and move_oftly to the other end of the corridor, determined to trust again to chance, and to quit it by the first avenue she could find; but, before she coul_ffect this, light broke upon the walls of the gallery, and, looking back, sh_aw Verezzi crossing it towards her chamber. She now glided into a passage, that opened on the left, without, as she thought, being perceived; but, in th_ext instant, another light, glimmering at the further end of this passage, threw her into new terror. While she stopped and hesitated which way to go, the pause allowed her to perceive, that it was Annette, who advanced, and sh_urried to meet her: but her imprudence again alarmed Emily, on perceivin_hom, she burst into a scream of joy, and it was some minutes, before sh_ould be prevailed with to be silent, or to release her mistress from th_rdent clasp, in which she held her. When, at length, Emily made Annett_omprehend her danger, they hurried towards Annette's room, which was in _istant part of the castle. No apprehensions, however, could yet silence th_atter. 'Oh dear ma'amselle,' said she, as they passed along, 'what _errified time have I had of it! Oh! I thought I should have died an hundre_imes! I never thought I should live to see you again! and I never was so gla_o see any body in my whole life, as I am to see you now.' 'Hark!' crie_mily, 'we are pursued; that was the echo of steps!' 'No, ma'amselle,' sai_nnette, 'it was only the echo of a door shutting; sound runs along thes_aulted passages so, that one is continually deceived by it; if one does bu_peak, or cough, it makes a noise as loud as a cannon.' 'Then there is th_reater necessity for us to be silent,' said Emily: 'pr'ythee say no more, till we reach your chamber.' Here, at length, they arrived, withou_nterruption, and, Annette having fastened the door, Emily sat down on he_ittle bed, to recover breath and composure. To her enquiry, whethe_alancourt was among the prisoners in the castle, Annette replied, that sh_ad not been able to hear, but that she knew there were several person_onfined. She then proceeded, in her tedious way, to give an account of th_iege, or rather a detail of her terrors and various sufferings, during th_ttack. 'But,' added she, 'when I heard the shouts of victory from th_amparts, I thought we were all taken, and gave myself up for lost, instead o_hich, WE had driven the enemy away. I went then to the north gallery, and sa_ great many of them scampering away among the mountains; but the rampar_alls were all in ruins, as one may say, and there was a dismal sight to se_own among the woods below, where the poor fellows were lying in heaps, bu_ere carried off presently by their comrades. While the siege was going on, the Signor was here, and there, and every where, at the same time, as Ludovic_old me, for he would not let me see any thing hardly, and locked me up, as h_as often done before, in a room in the middle of the castle, and used t_ring me food, and come and talk with me as often as he could; and I must say, if it had not been for Ludovico, I should have died outright.'
'Well, Annette,' said Emily, 'and how have affairs gone on, since the siege?'
'O! sad hurly burly doings, ma'amselle,' replied Annette; 'the Signors hav_one nothing but sit and drink and game, ever since. They sit up, all night, and play among themselves, for all those riches and fine things, they brough_n, some time since, when they used to go out a-robbing, or as good, for day_ogether; and then they have dreadful quarrels about who loses, and who wins.
That fierce Signor Verezzi is always losing, as they tell me, and Signo_rsino wins from him, and this makes him very wroth, and they have had severa_ard set-to's about it. Then, all those fine ladies are at the castle still; and I declare I am frighted, whenever I meet any of them in the passages.'—
'Surely, Annette,' said Emily starting, 'I heard a noise: listen.' After _ong pause, 'No, ma'amselle,' said Annette, 'it was only the wind in th_allery; I often hear it, when it shakes the old doors, at the other end. Bu_on't you go to bed, ma'amselle? you surely will not sit up starving, al_ight.' Emily now laid herself down on the mattress, and desired Annette t_eave the lamp burning on the hearth; having done which, the latter place_erself beside Emily, who, however, was not suffered to sleep, for she agai_hought she heard a noise from the passage; and Annette was again trying t_onvince her, that it was only the wind, when footsteps were distinctly hear_ear the door. Annette was now starting from the bed, but Emily prevailed wit_er to remain there, and listened with her in a state of terrible expectation.
The steps still loitered at the door, when presently an attempt was made o_he lock, and, in the next instant, a voice called. 'For heaven's sake, Annette, do not answer,' said Emily softly, 'remain quite still; but I fear w_ust extinguish the lamp, or its glare will betray us.' 'Holy Virgin!'
exclaimed Annette, forgetting her discretion, 'I would not be in darkness no_or the whole world.' While she spoke, the voice became louder than before, and repeated Annette's name; 'Blessed Virgin!' cried she suddenly, 'it is onl_udovico.' She rose to open the door, but Emily prevented her, till the_hould be more certain, that it was he alone; with whom Annette, at length, talked for some time, and learned, that he was come to enquire after herself, whom he had let out of her room to go to Emily, and that he was now returne_o lock her in again. Emily, fearful of being overheard, if they conversed an_onger through the door, consented that it should be opened, and a young ma_ppeared, whose open countenance confirmed the favourable opinion of him, which his care of Annette had already prompted her to form. She entreated hi_rotection, should Verezzi make this requisite; and Ludovico offered to pas_he night in an old chamber, adjoining, that opened from the gallery, and, o_he first alarm, to come to their defence.
Emily was much soothed by this proposal; and Ludovico, having lighted hi_amp, went to his station, while she, once more, endeavoured to repose on he_attress. But a variety of interests pressed upon her attention, and prevente_leep. She thought much on what Annette had told her of the dissolute manner_f Montoni and his associates, and more of his present conduct toward_erself, and of the danger, from which she had just escaped. From the view o_er present situation she shrunk, as from a new picture of terror. She sa_erself in a castle, inhabited by vice and violence, seated beyond the reac_f law or justice, and in the power of a man, whose perseverance was equal t_very occasion, and in whom passions, of which revenge was not the weakest, entirely supplied the place of principles. She was compelled, once more, t_cknowledge, that it would be folly, and not fortitude, any longer to dare hi_ower; and, resigning all hopes of future happiness with Valancourt, sh_etermined, that, on the following morning, she would compromise with Montoni, and give up her estates, on condition, that he would permit her immediat_eturn to France. Such considerations kept her waking for many hours; but, th_ight passed, without further alarm from Verezzi.
On the next morning, Emily had a long conversation with Ludovico, in which sh_eard circumstances concerning the castle, and received hints of the design_f Montoni, that considerably increased her alarms. On expressing he_urprise, that Ludovico, who seemed to be so sensible of the evils of hi_ituation, should continue in it, he informed her, that it was not hi_ntention to do so, and she then ventured to ask him, if he would assist he_o escape from the castle. Ludovico assured her of his readiness to attemp_his, but strongly represented the difficulty of the enterprise, and th_ertain destruction which must ensure, should Montoni overtake them, befor_hey had passed the mountains; he, however, promised to be watchful of ever_ircumstance, that might contribute to the success of the attempt, and t_hink upon some plan of departure.
Emily now confided to him the name of Valancourt, and begged he would enquir_or such a person among the prisoners in the castle; for the faint hope, whic_his conversation awakened, made her now recede from her resolution of a_mmediate compromise with Montoni. She determined, if possible, to delay this, till she heard further from Ludovico, and, if his designs were found to b_mpracticable, to resign the estates at once. Her thoughts were on thi_ubject, when Montoni, who was now recovered from the intoxication of th_receding night, sent for her, and she immediately obeyed the summons. He wa_lone. 'I find,' said he, 'that you were not in your chamber, last night; where were you?' Emily related to him some circumstances of her alarm, an_ntreated his protection from a repetition of them. 'You know the terms of m_rotection,' said he; 'if you really value this, you will secure it.' His ope_eclaration, that he would only conditionally protect her, while she remaine_ prisoner in the castle, shewed Emily the necessity of an immediat_ompliance with his terms; but she first demanded, whether he would permit he_mmediately to depart, if she gave up her claim to the contested estates. In _ery solemn manner he then assured her, that he would, and immediately lai_efore her a paper, which was to transfer the right of those estates t_imself.
She was, for a considerable time, unable to sign it, and her heart was tor_ith contending interests, for she was about to resign the happiness of al_er future years—the hope, which had sustained her in so many hours o_dversity.
After hearing from Montoni a recapitulation of the conditions of he_ompliance, and a remonstrance, that his time was valuable, she put her han_o the paper; when she had done which, she fell back in her chair, but soo_ecovered, and desired, that he would give orders for her departure, and tha_e would allow Annette to accompany her. Montoni smiled. 'It was necessary t_eceive you,' said he,—'there was no other way of making you act reasonably; you shall go, but it must not be at present. I must first secure these estate_y possession: when that is done, you may return to France if you will.'
The deliberate villany, with which he violated the solemn engagement he ha_ust entered into, shocked Emily as much, as the certainty, that she had mad_ fruitless sacrifice, and must still remain his prisoner. She had no words t_xpress what she felt, and knew, that it would have been useless, if she had.
As she looked piteously at Montoni, he turned away, and at the same tim_esired she would withdraw to her apartment; but, unable to leave the room, she sat down in a chair near the door, and sighed heavily. She had neithe_ords nor tears.
'Why will you indulge this childish grief?' said he. 'Endeavour to strengthe_our mind, to bear patiently what cannot now be avoided; you have no real evi_o lament; be patient, and you will be sent back to France. At present retir_o your apartment.'
'I dare not go, sir,' said she, 'where I shall be liable to the intrusion o_ignor Verezzi.' 'Have I not promised to protect you?' said Montoni. 'You hav_romised, sir,'—replied Emily, after some hesitation. 'And is not my promis_ufficient?' added he sternly. 'You will recollect your former promise, Signor,' said Emily, trembling, 'and may determine for me, whether I ought t_ely upon this.' 'Will you provoke me to declare to you, that I will no_rotect you then?' said Montoni, in a tone of haughty displeasure. 'If tha_ill satisfy you, I will do it immediately. Withdraw to your chamber, before _etract my promise; you have nothing to fear there.' Emily left the room, an_oved slowly into the hall, where the fear of meeting Verezzi, or Bertolini, made her quicken her steps, though she could scarcely support herself; an_oon after she reached once more her own apartment. Having looked fearfull_ound her, to examine if any person was there, and having searched every par_f it, she fastened the door, and sat down by one of the casements. Here, while she looked out for some hope to support her fainting spirits, which ha_een so long harassed and oppressed, that, if she had not now struggled muc_gainst misfortune, they would have left her, perhaps, for ever, sh_ndeavoured to believe, that Montoni did really intend to permit her return t_rance as soon as he had secured her property, and that he would, in the mea_ime, protect her from insult; but her chief hope rested with Ludovico, who, she doubted not, would be zealous in her cause, though he seemed almost t_espair of success in it. One circumstance, however, she had to rejoice in.
Her prudence, or rather her fears, had saved her from mentioning the name o_alancourt to Montoni, which she was several times on the point of doing, before she signed the paper, and of stipulating for his release, if he shoul_e really a prisoner in the castle. Had she done this, Montoni's jealous fear_ould now probably have loaded Valancourt with new severities, and hav_uggested the advantage of holding him a captive for life.
Thus passed the melancholy day, as she had before passed many in this sam_hamber. When night drew on, she would have withdrawn herself to Annette'_ed, had not a particular interest inclined her to remain in this chamber, i_pite of her fears; for, when the castle should be still, and the customar_our arrived, she determined to watch for the music, which she had formerl_eard. Though its sounds might not enable her positively to determine, whethe_alancourt was there, they would perhaps strengthen her opinion that he was, and impart the comfort, so necessary to her present support.—But, on the othe_and, if all should be silent—! She hardly dared to suffer her thoughts t_lance that way, but waited, with impatient expectation, the approaching hour.
The night was stormy; the battlements of the castle appeared to rock in th_ind, and, at intervals, long groans seemed to pass on the air, such as those, which often deceive the melancholy mind, in tempests, and amidst scenes o_esolation. Emily heard, as formerly, the sentinels pass along the terrace t_heir posts, and, looking out from her casement, observed, that the watch wa_oubled; a precaution, which appeared necessary enough, when she threw he_yes on the walls, and saw their shattered condition. The well-known sounds o_he soldiers' march, and of their distant voices, which passed her in th_ind, and were lost again, recalled to her memory the melancholy sensation sh_ad suffered, when she formerly heard the same sounds; and occasioned almos_nvoluntary comparisons between her present, and her late situation. But thi_as no subject for congratulations, and she wisely checked the course of he_houghts, while, as the hour was not yet come, in which she had bee_ccustomed to hear the music, she closed the casement, and endeavoured t_wait it in patience. The door of the stair-case she tried to secure, a_sual, with some of the furniture of the room; but this expedient her fear_ow represented to her to be very inadequate to the power and perseverance o_erezzi; and she often looked at a large and heavy chest, that stood in th_hamber, with wishes that she and Annette had strength enough to move it.
While she blamed the long stay of this girl, who was still with Ludovico an_ome other of the servants, she trimmed her wood fire, to make the room appea_ess desolate, and sat down beside it with a book, which her eyes perused, while her thoughts wandered to Valancourt, and her own misfortunes. As she sa_hus, she thought, in a pause of the wind, she distinguished music, and wen_o the casement to listen, but the loud swell of the gust overcame every othe_ound. When the wind sunk again, she heard distinctly, in the deep pause tha_ucceeded, the sweet strings of a lute; but again the rising tempest bore awa_he notes, and again was succeeded by a solemn pause. Emily, trembling wit_ope and fear, opened her casement to listen, and to try whether her own voic_ould be heard by the musician; for to endure any longer this state o_orturing suspense concerning Valancourt, seemed to be utterly impossible.
There was a kind of breathless stillness in the chambers, that permitted he_o distinguish from below the tender notes of the very lute she had formerl_eard, and with it, a plaintive voice, made sweeter by the low rustling sound, that now began to creep along the wood-tops, till it was lost in the risin_ind. Their tall heads then began to wave, while, through a forest of pine, o_he left, the wind, groaning heavily, rolled onward over the woods below, bending them almost to their roots; and, as the long-resounding gale swep_way, other woods, on the right, seemed to answer the 'loud lament;' then, others, further still, softened it into a murmur, that died into silence.
Emily listened, with mingled awe and expectation, hope and fear; and again th_elting sweetness of the lute was heard, and the same solemn-breathing voice.
Convinced that these came from an apartment underneath, she leaned far out o_er window, that she might discover whether any light was there; but th_asements below, as well as those above, were sunk so deep in the thick wall_f the castle, that she could not see them, or even the faint ray, tha_robably glimmered through their bars. She then ventured to call; but the win_ore her voice to the other end of the terrace, and then the music was hear_s before, in the pause of the gust. Suddenly, she thought she heard a nois_n her chamber, and she drew herself within the casement; but, in a momen_fter, distinguishing Annette's voice at the door, she concluded it was he_he had heard before, and she let her in. 'Move softly, Annette, to th_asement,' said she, 'and listen with me; the music is returned.' They wer_ilent till, the measure changing, Annette exclaimed, 'Holy Virgin! I kno_hat song well; it is a French song, one of the favourite songs of my dea_ountry.' This was the ballad Emily had heard on a former night, though no_he one she had first listened to from the fishing-house in Gascony. 'O! it i_ Frenchman, that sings,' said Annette: 'it must be Monsieur Valancourt.'
'Hark! Annette, do not speak so loud,' said Emily, 'we may be overheard.'
'What! by the Chevalier?' said Annette. 'No,' replied Emily mournfully, 'bu_y somebody, who may report us to the Signor. What reason have you to think i_s Monsieur Valancourt, who sings? But hark! now the voice swells louder! D_ou recollect those tones? I fear to trust my own judgment.' 'I never happene_o hear the Chevalier sing, Mademoiselle,' replied Annette, who, as Emily wa_isappointed to perceive, had no stronger reason for concluding this to b_alancourt, than that the musician must be a Frenchman. Soon after, she hear_he song of the fishing-house, and distinguished her own name, which wa_epeated so distinctly, that Annette had heard it also. She trembled, sun_nto a chair by the window, and Annette called aloud, 'Monsieur Valancourt!
Monsieur Valancourt!' while Emily endeavoured to check her, but she repeate_he call more loudly than before, and the lute and the voice suddenly stopped.
Emily listened, for some time, in a state of intolerable suspense; but, n_nswer being returned, 'It does not signify, Mademoiselle,' said Annette; 'i_s the Chevalier, and I will speak to him.' 'No, Annette,' said Emily, '_hink I will speak myself; if it is he, he will know my voice, and spea_gain.' 'Who is it,' said she, 'that sings at this late hour?'
A long silence ensued, and, having repeated the question, she perceived som_aint accents, mingling in the blast, that swept by; but the sounds were s_istant, and passed so suddenly, that she could scarcely hear them, much les_istinguish the words they uttered, or recognise the voice. After anothe_ause, Emily called again; and again they heard a voice, but as faintly a_efore; and they perceived, that there were other circumstances, besides th_trength, and direction of the wind, to content with; for the great depth, a_hich the casements were fixed in the castle walls, contributed, still mor_han the distance, to prevent articulated sounds from being understood, thoug_eneral ones were easily heard. Emily, however, ventured to believe, from th_ircumstance of her voice alone having been answered, that the stranger wa_alancourt, as well as that he knew her, and she gave herself up to speechles_oy. Annette, however, was not speechless.—She renewed her calls, but receive_o answer; and Emily, fearing, that a further attempt, which certainly was, a_resent, highly dangerous, might expose them to the guards of the castle, while it could not perhaps terminate her suspense, insisted on Annette'_ropping the enquiry for this night; though she determined herself to questio_udovico, on the subject, in the morning, more urgently than she had yet done.
She was now enabled to say, that the stranger, whom she had formerly heard, was still in the castle, and to direct Ludovico to that part of it, in whic_e was confined.
Emily, attended by Annette, continued at the casement, for some time, but al_emained still; they heard neither lute or voice again, and Emily was now a_uch oppressed by anxious joy, as she lately was by a sense of he_isfortunes. With hasty steps she paced the room, now half calling o_alancourt's name, then suddenly stopping, and now going to the casement an_istening, where, however, she heard nothing but the solemn waving of th_oods. Sometimes her impatience to speak to Ludovico prompted her to sen_nnette to call him; but a sense of the impropriety of this at midnigh_estrained her. Annette, meanwhile, as impatient as her mistress, went a_ften to the casement to listen, and returned almost as much disappointed.
She, at length, mentioned Signor Verezzi, and her fear, lest he should ente_he chamber by the staircase, door. 'But the night is now almost past, Mademoiselle,' said she, recollecting herself; 'there is the morning light, beginning to peep over those mountains yonder in the east.'
Emily had forgotten, till this moment, that such a person existed as Verezzi, and all the danger that had appeared to threaten her; but the mention of hi_ame renewed her alarm, and she remembered the old chest, that she had wishe_o place against the door, which she now, with Annette, attempted to move, bu_t was so heavy, that they could not lift it from the floor. 'What is in thi_reat old chest, Mademoiselle,' said Annette, 'that makes it so weighty?'
Emily having replied, 'that she found it in the chamber, when she first cam_o the castle, and had never examined it.'—'Then I will, ma'amselle,' sai_nnette, and she tried to lift the lid; but this was held by a lock, for whic_he had no key, and which, indeed, appeared, from its peculiar construction, to open with a spring. The morning now glimmered through the casements, an_he wind had sunk into a calm. Emily looked out upon the dusky woods, and o_he twilight mountains, just stealing in the eye, and saw the whole scene, after the storm, lying in profound stillness, the woods motionless, and th_louds above, through which the dawn trembled, scarcely appearing to mov_long the heavens. One soldier was pacing the terrace beneath, with measure_teps; and two, more distant, were sunk asleep on the walls, wearied with th_ight's watch. Having inhaled, for a while, the pure spirit of the air, and o_egetation, which the late rains had called forth; and having listened, onc_ore, for a note of music, she now closed the casement, and retired to rest.