> The image of a wicked, heinous fault Lives in his eye; that close aspect o_is Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast.
> KING JOHN
Leaving the gay scenes of Paris, we return to those of the gloomy Apennine, where Emily's thoughts were still faithful to Valancourt. Looking to him as t_er only hope, she recollected, with jealous exactness, every assurance an_very proof she had witnessed of his affection; read again and again th_etters she had received from him; weighed, with intense anxiety, the force o_very word, that spoke of his attachment; and dried her tears, as she truste_n his truth.
Montoni, meanwhile, had made strict enquiry concerning the strang_ircumstance of his alarm, without obtaining information; and was, at length, obliged to account for it by the reasonable supposition, that it was _ischievous trick played off by one of his domestics. His disagreements wit_adame Montoni, on the subject of her settlements, were now more frequent tha_ver; he even confined her entirely to her own apartment, and did not scrupl_o threaten her with much greater severity, should she persevere in a refusal.
Reason, had she consulted it, would now have perplexed her in the choice of _onduct to be adopted. It would have pointed out the danger of irritating b_urther opposition a man, such as Montoni had proved himself to be, and t_hose power she had so entirely committed herself; and it would also have tol_er, of what extreme importance to her future comfort it was, to reserve fo_erself those possessions, which would enable her to live independently o_ontoni, should she ever escape from his immediate controul. But she wa_irected by a more decisive guide than reason—the spirit of revenge, whic_rged her to oppose violence to violence, and obstinacy to obstinacy.
Wholly confined to the solitude of her apartment, she was now reduced t_olicit the society she had lately rejected; for Emily was the only person, except Annette, with whom she was permitted to converse.
Generously anxious for her peace, Emily, therefore, tried to persuade, whe_he could not convince, and sought by every gentle means to induce her t_orbear that asperity of reply, which so greatly irritated Montoni. The prid_f her aunt did sometimes soften to the soothing voice of Emily, and ther_ven were moments, when she regarded her affectionate attentions wit_oodwill.
The scenes of terrible contention, to which Emily was frequently compelled t_e witness, exhausted her spirits more than any circumstances, that ha_ccurred since her departure from Tholouse. The gentleness and goodness of he_arents, together with the scenes of her early happiness, often stole on he_ind, like the visions of a higher world; while the characters an_ircumstances, now passing beneath her eye, excited both terror and surprise.
She could scarcely have imagined, that passions so fierce and so various, a_hose which Montoni exhibited, could have been concentrated in one individual; yet what more surprised her, was, that, on great occasions, he could ben_hese passions, wild as they were, to the cause of his interest, and generall_ould disguise in his countenance their operation on his mind; but she ha_een him too often, when he had thought it unnecessary to conceal his nature, to be deceived on such occasions.
Her present life appeared like the dream of a distempered imagination, or lik_ne of those frightful fictions, in which the wild genius of the poet_ometimes delighted. Reflection brought only regret, and anticipation terror.
How often did she wish to 'steal the lark's wing, and mount the swiftes_ale,' that Languedoc and repose might once more be hers!
Of Count Morano's health she made frequent enquiry; but Annette heard onl_ague reports of his danger, and that his surgeon had said he would neve_eave the cottage alive; while Emily could not but be shocked to think, tha_he, however innocently, might be the means of his death; and Annette, who di_ot fail to observe her emotion, interpreted it in her own way.
But a circumstance soon occurred, which entirely withdrew Annette's attentio_rom this subject, and awakened the surprise and curiosity so natural to her.
Coming one day to Emily's apartment, with a countenance full of importance,
'What can all this mean, ma'amselle?' said she. 'Would I was once safe i_anguedoc again, they should never catch me going on my travels any more! _ust think it a fine thing, truly, to come abroad, and see foreign parts! _ittle thought I was coming to be catched up in a old castle, among suc_reary mountains, with the chance of being murdered, or, what is as good, having my throat cut!'
'What can all this mean, indeed, Annette?' said Emily, in astonishment.
'Aye, ma'amselle, you may look surprised; but you won't believe it, perhaps, till they have murdered you, too. You would not believe about the ghost I tol_ou of, though I shewed you the very place, where it used to appear!—You wil_elieve nothing, ma'amselle.'
'Not till you speak more reasonably, Annette; for Heaven's sake, explain you_eaning. You spoke of murder!'
'Aye, ma'amselle, they are coming to murder us all, perhaps; but wha_ignifies explaining?—you will not believe.'
Emily again desired her to relate what she had seen, or heard.
'O, I have seen enough, ma'am, and heard too much, as Ludovico can prove. Poo_oul! they will murder him, too! I little thought, when he sung those swee_erses under my lattice, at Venice!'—Emily looked impatient and displeased.
'Well, ma'amselle, as I was saying, these preparations about the castle, an_hese strange-looking people, that are calling here every day, and th_ignor's cruel usage of my lady, and his odd goings-on—all these, as I tol_udovico, can bode no good. And he bid me hold my tongue. So, says I, th_ignor's strangely altered, Ludovico, in this gloomy castle, to what he was i_rance; there, all so gay! Nobody so gallant to my lady, then; and he coul_mile, too, upon a poor servant, sometimes, and jeer her, too, good-naturedl_nough. I remember once, when he said to me, as I was going out of my lady'_ressing-room—Annette, says he—'
'Never mind what the Signor said,' interrupted Emily; 'but tell me, at once, the circumstance, which has thus alarmed you.'
'Aye, ma'amselle,' rejoined Annette, 'that is just what Ludovico said: say_e, Never mind what the Signor says to you. So I told him what I thought abou_he Signor. He is so strangely altered, said I: for now he is so haughty, an_o commanding, and so sharp with my lady; and, if he meets one, he'll scarcel_ook at one, unless it be to frown. So much the better, says Ludovico, so muc_he better. And to tell you the truth, ma'amselle, I thought this was a ver_ll-natured speech of Ludovico: but I went on. And then, says I, he is alway_nitting his brows; and if one speaks to him, he does not hear; and then h_its up counselling so, of a night, with the other Signors—there they are, till long past midnight, discoursing together! Aye, but says Ludovico, yo_on't know what they are counselling about. No, said I, but I can guess—it i_bout my young lady. Upon that, Ludovico burst out a-laughing, quite loud; s_e put me in a huff, for I did not like that either I or you, ma'amselle, should be laughed at; and I turned away quick, but he stopped me. "Don't b_ffronted, Annette," said he, "but I cannot help laughing;" and with that h_aughed again. "What!" says he, "do you think the Signors sit up, night afte_ight, only to counsel about thy young lady! No, no, there is something mor_n the wind than that. And these repairs about the castle, and thes_reparations about the ramparts—they are not making about young ladies." Why, surely, said I, the Signor, my master, is not going to make war? "Make war!"
said Ludovico, "what, upon the mountains and the woods? for here is no livin_oul to make war upon that I see."
'What are these preparations for, then? said I; why surely nobody is coming t_ake away my master's castle! "Then there are so many ill- looking fellow_oming to the castle every day," says Ludovico, without answering my question,
"and the Signor sees them all, and talks with them all, and they all stay i_he neighbourhood! By holy St. Marco! some of them are the most cut-throat- looking dogs I ever set my eyes upon."
'I asked Ludovico again, if he thought they were coming to take away m_aster's castle; and he said, No, he did not think they were, but he did no_now for certain. "Then yesterday," said he, but you must not tell this, ma'amselle, "yesterday, a party of these men came, and left all their horse_n the castle stables, where, it seems, they are to stay, for the Signo_rdered them all to be entertained with the best provender in the manger; bu_he men are, most of them, in the neighbouring cottages."
'So, ma'amselle, I came to tell you all this, for I never heard any thing s_trange in my life. But what can these ill-looking men be come about, if it i_ot to murder us? And the Signor knows this, or why should he be so civil t_hem? And why should he fortify the castle, and counsel so much with the othe_ignors, and be so thoughtful?'
'Is this all you have to tell, Annette?' said Emily. 'Have you heard nothin_lse, that alarms you?'
'Nothing else, ma'amselle!' said Annette; 'why, is not this enough?' 'Quit_nough for my patience, Annette, but not quite enough to convince me we ar_ll to be murdered, though I acknowledge here is sufficient food fo_uriosity.' She forbore to speak her apprehensions, because she would no_ncourage Annette's wild terrors; but the present circumstances of the castl_oth surprised, and alarmed her. Annette, having told her tale, left th_hamber, on the wing for new wonders.
In the evening, Emily had passed some melancholy hours with Madame Montoni, and was retiring to rest, when she was alarmed by a strange and loud knockin_t her chamber door, and then a heavy weight fell against it, that almos_urst it open. She called to know who was there, and receiving no answer, repeated the call; but a chilling silence followed. It occurred to her—for, a_his moment, she could not reason on the probability of circumstances—tha_ome one of the strangers, lately arrived at the castle, had discovered he_partment, and was come with such intent, as their looks rendered to_ossible—to rob, perhaps to murder, her. The moment she admitted thi_ossibility, terror supplied the place of conviction, and a kind o_nstinctive remembrance of her remote situation from the family heightened i_o a degree, that almost overcame her senses. She looked at the door, whic_ed to the staircase, expecting to see it open, and listening, in fearfu_ilence, for a return of the noise, till she began to think it had proceede_rom this door, and a wish of escaping through the opposite one rushed upo_er mind. She went to the gallery door, and then, fearing to open it, les_ome person might be silently lurking for her without, she stopped, but wit_er eyes fixed in expectation upon the opposite door of the stair-case. A_hus she stood, she heard a faint breathing near her, and became convinced, that some person was on the other side of the door, which was already locked.
She sought for other fastening, but there was none.
While she yet listened, the breathing was distinctly heard, and her terror wa_ot soothed, when, looking round her wide and lonely chamber, she agai_onsidered her remote situation. As she stood hesitating whether to call fo_ssistance, the continuance of the stillness surprised her; and her spirit_ould have revived, had she not continued to hear the faint breathing, tha_onvinced her, the person, whoever it was, had not quitted the door.
At length, worn out with anxiety, she determined to call loudly for assistanc_rom her casement, and was advancing to it, when, whether the terror of he_ind gave her ideal sounds, or that real ones did come, she thought footstep_ere ascending the private stair-case; and, expecting to see its door unclose, she forgot all other cause of alarm, and retreated towards the corridor. Her_he endeavoured to make her escape, but, on opening the door, was very nea_alling over a person, who lay on the floor without. She screamed, and woul_ave passed, but her trembling frame refused to support her; and the moment, in which she leaned against the wall of the gallery, allowed her leisure t_bserve the figure before her, and to recognise the features of Annette. Fea_nstantly yielded to surprise. She spoke in vain to the poor girl, wh_emained senseless on the floor, and then, losing all consciousness of her ow_eakness, hurried to her assistance.
When Annette recovered, she was helped by Emily into the chamber, but wa_till unable to speak, and looked round her, as if her eyes followed som_erson in the room. Emily tried to sooth her disturbed spirits, and forbore, at present, to ask her any questions; but the faculty of speech was never lon_ith-held from Annette, and she explained, in broken sentences, and in he_edious way, the occasion of her disorder. She affirmed, and with a solemnit_f conviction, that almost staggered the incredulity of Emily, that she ha_een an apparition, as she was passing to her bedroom, through the corridor.
'I had heard strange stories of that chamber before,' said Annette: 'but as i_as so near yours, ma'amselle, I would not tell them to you, because the_ould frighten you. The servants had told me, often and often, that it wa_aunted, and that was the reason why it was shut up: nay, for that matter, wh_he whole string of these rooms, here, are shut up. I quaked whenever I wen_y, and I must say, I did sometimes think I heard odd noises within it. But, as I said, as I was passing along the corridor, and not thinking a word abou_he matter, or even of the strange voice that the Signors heard the othe_ight, all of a sudden comes a great light, and, looking behind me, there wa_ tall figure, (I saw it as plainly, ma'amselle, as I see you at this moment), a tall figure gliding along (Oh! I cannot describe how!) into the room, tha_s always shut up, and nobody has the key of it but the Signor, and the doo_hut directly.'
'Then it doubtless was the Signor,' said Emily.
'O no, ma'amselle, it could not be him, for I left him busy a- quarrelling i_y lady's dressing-room!'
'You bring me strange tales, Annette,' said Emily: 'it was but this morning, that you would have terrified me with the apprehension of murder; and now yo_ould persuade me, you have seen a ghost! These wonderful stories come to_uickly.'
'Nay, ma'amselle, I will say no more, only, if I had not been frightened, _hould not have fainted dead away, so. I ran as fast as I could, to get t_our door; but, what was worst of all, I could not call out; then I though_omething must be strangely the matter with me, and directly I dropt down.'
'Was it the chamber where the black veil hangs?' said Emily. 'O! no, ma'amselle, it was one nearer to this. What shall I do, to get to my room? _ould not go out into the corridor again, for the whole world!' Emily, whos_pirits had been severely shocked, and who, therefore, did not like th_hought of passing the night alone, told her she might sleep where she was.
'O, no, ma'amselle,' replied Annette, 'I would not sleep in the room, now, fo_ thousand sequins!'
Wearied and disappointed, Emily first ridiculed, though she shared, her fears, and then tried to sooth them; but neither attempt succeeded, and the gir_ersisted in believing and affirming, that what she had seen was nothin_uman. It was not till some time after Emily had recovered her composure, tha_he recollected the steps she had heard on the stair-case—a remembrance, however, which made her insist that Annette should pass the night with her, and, with much difficulty, she, at length, prevailed, assisted by that part o_he girl's fear, which concerned the corridor.
Early on the following morning, as Emily crossed the hall to the ramparts, sh_eard a noisy bustle in the court-yard, and the clatter of horses' hoofs. Suc_nusual sounds excited her curiosity; and, instead of going to the ramparts, she went to an upper casement, from whence she saw, in the court below, _arge party of horsemen, dressed in a singular, but uniform, habit, an_ompletely, though variously, armed. They wore a kind of short jacket, composed of black and scarlet, and several of them had a cloak, of plai_lack, which, covering the person entirely, hung down to the stirrups. As on_f these cloaks glanced aside, she saw, beneath, daggers, apparently o_ifferent sizes, tucked into the horseman's belt. She further observed, tha_hese were carried, in the same manner, by many of the horsemen withou_loaks, most of whom bore also pikes, or javelins. On their heads, were th_mall Italian caps, some of which were distinguished by black feathers.
Whether these caps gave a fierce air to the countenance, or that th_ountenances they surmounted had naturally such an appearance, Emily though_he had never, till then, seen an assemblage of faces so savage and terrific.
While she gazed, she almost fancied herself surrounded by banditti; and _ague thought glanced athwart her fancy—that Montoni was the captain of th_roup before her, and that this castle was to be the place of rendezvous. Th_trange and horrible supposition was but momentary, though her reason coul_upply none more probable, and though she discovered, among the band, th_trangers she had formerly noticed with so much alarm, who were no_istinguished by the black plume.
While she continued gazing, Cavigni, Verezzi, and Bertolini came forth fro_he hall, habited like the rest, except that they wore hats, with a mixe_lume of black and scarlet, and that their arms differed from those of th_est of the party. As they mounted their horses, Emily was struck with th_xulting joy, expressed on the visage of Verezzi, while Cavigni was gay, ye_ith a shade of thought on his countenance; and, as he managed his horse wit_exterity, his graceful and commanding figure, which exhibited the majesty o_ hero, had never appeared to more advantage. Emily, as she observed him, thought he somewhat resembled Valancourt, in the spirit and dignity of hi_erson; but she looked in vain for the noble, benevolent countenance—th_oul's intelligence, which overspread the features of the latter.
As she was hoping, she scarcely knew why, that Montoni would accompany th_arty, he appeared at the hall door, but un-accoutred. Having carefull_bserved the horsemen, conversed awhile with the cavaliers, and bidden the_arewel, the band wheeled round the court, and, led by Verezzi, issued fort_nder the portcullis; Montoni following to the portal, and gazing after the_or some time. Emily then retired from the casement, and, now certain of bein_nmolested, went to walk on the ramparts, from whence she soon after saw th_arty winding among the mountains to the west, appearing and disappearin_etween the woods, till distance confused their figures, consolidated thei_umbers, and only a dingy mass appeared moving along the heights.
Emily observed, that no workmen were on the ramparts, and that the repairs o_he fortifications seemed to be completed. While she sauntered thoughtfull_n, she heard distant footsteps, and, raising her eyes, saw several me_urking under the castle walls, who were evidently not workmen, but looked a_f they would have accorded well with the party, which was gone. Wonderin_here Annette had hid herself so long, who might have explained some of th_ate circumstances, and then considering that Madame Montoni was probabl_isen, she went to her dressing-room, where she mentioned what had occurred; but Madame Montoni either would not, or could not, give any explanation of th_vent. The Signor's reserve to his wife, on this subject, was probably nothin_ore than usual; yet, to Emily, it gave an air of mystery to the whole affair, that seemed to hint, there was danger, if not villany, in his schemes.
Annette presently came, and, as usual, was full of alarm; to her lady's eage_nquiries of what she had heard among the servants, she replied:
'Ah, madam! nobody knows what it is all about, but old Carlo; he knows wel_nough, I dare say, but he is as close as his master. Some say the Signor i_oing out to frighten the enemy, as they call it: but where is the enemy? The_thers say, he is going to take away some body's castle: but I am sure he ha_oom enough in his own, without taking other people's; and I am sure I shoul_ike it a great deal better, if there were more people to fill it.'
'Ah! you will soon have your wish, I fear,' replied Madame Montoni.
'No, madam, but such ill-looking fellows are not worth having. I mean suc_allant, smart, merry fellows as Ludovico, who is always telling drol_tories, to make one laugh. It was but yesterday, he told me such a HUMOURSOM_ale! I can't help laughing at it now.— Says he—'
'Well, we can dispense with the story,' said her lady. 'Ah!' continue_nnette, 'he sees a great way further than other people! Now he sees into al_he Signor's meaning, without knowing a word about the matter!'
'How is that?' said Madame Montoni.
'Why he says—but he made me promise not to tell, and I would not disoblige hi_or the world.'
'What is it he made you promise not to tell?' said her lady, sternly. '_nsist upon knowing immediately—what is it he made you promise?'
'O madam,' cried Annette, 'I would not tell for the universe!' 'I insist upo_our telling this instant,' said Madame Montoni. 'O dear madam! I would no_ell for a hundred sequins! You would not have me forswear myself madam!'
'I will not wait another moment,' said Madame Montoni. Annette was silent.
'The Signor shall be informed of this directly,' rejoined her mistress: 'h_ill make you discover all.'
'It is Ludovico, who has discovered,' said Annette: 'but for mercy's sake, madam, don't tell the Signor, and you shall know all directly.' Madame Monton_aid, that she would not.
'Well then, madam, Ludovico says, that the Signor, my master, is—is- -that is, he only thinks so, and any body, you know, madam, is free to think—that th_ignor, my master, is—is—'
'Is what?' said her lady, impatiently.
'That the Signor, my master, is going to be—a great robber—that is- -he i_oing to rob on his own account;—to be, (but I am sure I don't understand wha_e means) to be a—captain of—robbers.'
'Art thou in thy senses, Annette?' said Madame Montoni; 'or is this a trick t_eceive me? Tell me, this instant, what Ludovico DID say to thee;—n_quivocation;—this instant.'
'Nay, madam,' cried Annette, 'if this is all I am to get for having told th_ecret'—Her mistress thus continued to insist, and Annette to protest, til_ontoni, himself, appeared, who bade the latter leave the room, and sh_ithdrew, trembling for the fate of her story. Emily also was retiring, bu_er aunt desired she would stay; and Montoni had so often made her a witnes_f their contention, that he no longer had scruples on that account.
'I insist upon knowing this instant, Signor, what all this means:' said hi_ife—'what are all these armed men, whom they tell me of, gone out about?'
Montoni answered her only with a look of scorn; and Emily whispered somethin_o her. 'It does not signify,' said her aunt: 'I will know; and I will know, too, what the castle has been fortified for.'
'Come, come,' said Montoni, 'other business brought me here. I must be trifle_ith no longer. I have immediate occasion for what I demand—those estates mus_e given up, without further contention; or I may find a way—'
'They never shall be given up,' interrupted Madame Montoni: 'they never shal_nable you to carry on your wild schemes;—but what are these? I will know. D_ou expect the castle to be attacked? Do you expect enemies? Am I to be shu_p here, to be killed in a siege?'
'Sign the writings,' said Montoni, 'and you shall know more.'
'What enemy can be coming?' continued his wife. 'Have you entered into th_ervice of the state? Am I to be blocked up here to die?'
'That may possibly happen,' said Montoni, 'unless you yield to my demand: for, come what may, you shall not quit the castle till then.' Madame Montoni burs_nto loud lamentation, which she as suddenly checked, considering, that he_usband's assertions might be only artifices, employed to extort her consent.
She hinted this suspicion, and, in the next moment, told him also, that hi_esigns were not so honourable as to serve the state, and that she believed h_ad only commenced a captain of banditti, to join the enemies of Venice, i_lundering and laying waste the surrounding country.
Montoni looked at her for a moment with a steady and stern countenance; whil_mily trembled, and his wife, for once, thought she had said too much. 'Yo_hall be removed, this night,' said he, 'to the east turret: there, perhaps, you may understand the danger of offending a man, who has an unlimited powe_ver you.'
Emily now fell at his feet, and, with tears of terror, supplicated for he_unt, who sat, trembling with fear, and indignation; now ready to pour fort_xecrations, and now to join the intercessions of Emily. Montoni, however, soon interrupted these entreaties with an horrible oath; and, as he burst fro_mily, leaving his cloak, in her hand, she fell to the floor, with a force, that occasioned her a severe blow on the forehead. But he quitted the room, without attempting to raise her, whose attention was called from herself, by _eep groan from Madame Montoni, who continued otherwise unmoved in her chair, and had not fainted. Emily, hastening to her assistance, saw her eyes rolling, and her features convulsed.
Having spoken to her, without receiving an answer, she brought water, an_upported her head, while she held it to her lips; but the increasin_onvulsions soon compelled Emily to call for assistance. On her way throug_he hall, in search of Annette, she met Montoni, whom she told what ha_appened, and conjured to return and comfort her aunt; but he turned silentl_way, with a look of indifference, and went out upon the ramparts. At lengt_he found old Carlo and Annette, and they hastened to the dressing-room, wher_adame Montoni had fallen on the floor, and was lying in strong convulsions.
Having lifted her into the adjoining room, and laid her on the bed, the forc_f her disorder still made all their strength necessary to hold her, whil_nnette trembled and sobbed, and old Carlo looked silently and piteously on, as his feeble hands grasped those of his mistress, till, turning his eyes upo_mily, he exclaimed, 'Good God! Signora, what is the matter?'
Emily looked calmly at him, and saw his enquiring eyes fixed on her: an_nnette, looking up, screamed loudly; for Emily's face was stained with blood, which continued to fall slowly from her forehead: but her attention had bee_o entirely occupied by the scene before her, that she had felt no pain fro_he wound. She now held an handkerchief to her face, and, notwithstanding he_aintness, continued to watch Madame Montoni, the violence of whos_onvulsions was abating, till at length they ceased, and left her in a kind o_tupor.
'My aunt must remain quiet,' said Emily. 'Go, good Carlo; if we should wan_our assistance, I will send for you. In the mean time, if you have a_pportunity, speak kindly of your mistress to your master.'
'Alas!' said Carlo, 'I have seen too much! I have little influence with th_ignor. But do, dear young lady, take some care of yourself; that is an ugl_ound, and you look sadly.'
'Thank you, my friend, for your consideration,' said Emily, smiling kindly:
'the wound is trifling, it came by a fall.'
Carlo shook his head, and left the room; and Emily, with Annette, continued t_atch by her aunt. 'Did my lady tell the Signor what Ludovico said, ma'amselle?' asked Annette in a whisper; but Emily quieted her fears on th_ubject.
'I thought what this quarrelling would come to,' continued Annette: 'I suppos_he Signor has been beating my lady.'
'No, no, Annette, you are totally mistaken, nothing extra-ordinary ha_appened.'
'Why, extraordinary things happen here so often, ma'amselle, that there i_othing in them. Here is another legion of those ill- looking fellows, come t_he castle, this morning.'
'Hush! Annette, you will disturb my aunt; we will talk of that by and bye.'
They continued watching silently, till Madame Montoni uttered a low sigh, whe_mily took her hand, and spoke soothingly to her; but the former gazed wit_nconscious eyes, and it was long before she knew her niece. Her first word_hen enquired for Montoni; to which Emily replied by an entreaty, that sh_ould compose her spirits, and consent to be kept quiet, adding, that, if sh_ished any message to be conveyed to him, she would herself deliver it. 'No,'
said her aunt faintly, 'no—I have nothing new to tell him. Does he persist i_aying I shall be removed from my chamber?'
Emily replied, that he had not spoken, on the subject, since Madame Monton_eard him; and then she tried to divert her attention to some other topic; bu_er aunt seemed to be inattentive to what she said, and lost in secre_houghts. Emily, having brought her some refreshment, now left her to the car_f Annette, and went in search of Montoni, whom she found on a remote part o_he rampart, conversing among a group of the men described by Annette. The_tood round him with fierce, yet subjugated, looks, while he, speakin_arnestly, and pointing to the walls, did not perceive Emily, who remained a_ome distance, waiting till he should be at leisure, and observin_nvoluntarily the appearance of one man, more savage than his fellows, wh_tood resting on his pike, and looking, over the shoulders of a comrade, a_ontoni, to whom he listened with uncommon earnestness. This man wa_pparently of low condition; yet his looks appeared not to acknowledge th_uperiority of Montoni, as did those of his companions; and sometimes the_ven assumed an air of authority, which the decisive manner of the Signo_ould not repress. Some few words of Montoni then passed in the wind; and, a_he men were separating, she heard him say, 'This evening, then, begin th_atch at sun-set.'
'At sun-set, Signor,' replied one or two of them, and walked away; while Emil_pproached Montoni, who appeared desirous of avoiding her: but, though sh_bserved this, she had courage to proceed. She endeavoured to intercede onc_ore for her aunt, represented to him her sufferings, and urged the danger o_xposing her to a cold apartment in her present state. 'She suffers by her ow_olly,' said Montoni, 'and is not to be pitied;—she knows how she may avoi_hese sufferings in future—if she is removed to the turret, it will be her ow_ault. Let her be obedient, and sign the writings you heard of, and I wil_hink no more of it.'
When Emily ventured still to plead, he sternly silenced and rebuked her fo_nterfering in his domestic affairs, but, at length, dismissed her with thi_oncession—That he would not remove Madame Montoni, on the ensuing night, bu_llow her till the next to consider, whether she would resign her settlements, or be imprisoned in the east turret of the castle, 'where she shall find,' h_dded, 'a punishment she may not expect.'
Emily then hastened to inform her aunt of this short respite and of th_lternative, that awaited her, to which the latter made no reply, but appeare_houghtful, while Emily, in consideration of her extreme languor, wished t_ooth her mind by leading it to less interesting topics: and, though thes_fforts were unsuccessful, and Madame Montoni became peevish, her resolution, on the contended point, seemed somewhat to relax, and Emily recommended, a_er only means of safety, that she should submit to Montoni's demand. 'Yo_now not what you advise,' said her aunt. 'Do you understand, that thes_states will descend to you at my death, if I persist in a refusal?'
'I was ignorant of that circumstance, madam,' replied Emily, 'but th_nowledge of it cannot with-hold me from advising you to adopt the conduct, which not only your peace, but, I fear, your safety requires, and I entreat, that you will not suffer a consideration comparatively so trifling, to mak_ou hesitate a moment in resigning them.'
'Are you sincere, niece?' 'Is it possible you can doubt it, madam?' Her aun_ppeared to be affected. 'You are not unworthy of these estates, niece,' sai_he: 'I would wish to keep them for your sake- -you shew a virtue I did no_xpect.'
'How have I deserved this reproof, madam?' said Emily sorrowfully.
'Reproof!' replied Madame Montoni: 'I meant to praise your virtue.'
'Alas! here is no exertion of virtue,' rejoined Emily, 'for here is n_emptation to be overcome.'
'Yet Monsieur Valancourt'—said her aunt. 'O, madam!' interrupted Emily, anticipating what she would have said, 'do not let me glance on that subject: do not let my mind be stained with a wish so shockingly self-interested.' Sh_mmediately changed the topic, and continued with Madame Montoni, till sh_ithdrew to her apartment for the night.
At that hour, the castle was perfectly still, and every inhabitant of it, except herself, seemed to have retired to rest. As she passed along the wid_nd lonely galleries, dusky and silent, she felt forlorn and apprehensiv_f—she scarcely knew what; but when, entering the corridor, she recollecte_he incident of the preceding night, a dread seized her, lest a subject o_larm, similar to that, which had befallen Annette, should occur to her, an_hich, whether real, or ideal, would, she felt, have an almost equal effec_pon her weakened spirits. The chamber, to which Annette had alluded, she di_ot exactly know, but understood it to be one of those she must pass in th_ay to her own; and, sending a fearful look forward into the gloom, sh_tepped lightly and cautiously along, till, coming to a door, from whenc_ssued a low sound, she hesitated and paused; and, during the delay of tha_oment, her fears so much increased, that she had no power to move from th_pot. Believing, that she heard a human voice within, she was somewha_evived; but, in the next moment, the door was opened, and a person, whom sh_onceived to be Montoni, appeared, who instantly started back, and closed it, though not before she had seen, by the light that burned in the chamber, another person, sitting in a melancholy attitude by the fire. Her terro_anished, but her astonishment only began, which was now roused by th_ysterious secrecy of Montoni's manner, and by the discovery of a person, who_e thus visited at midnight, in an apartment, which had long been shut up, an_f which such extraordinary reports were circulated.
While she thus continued hesitating, strongly prompted to watch Montoni'_otions, yet fearing to irritate him by appearing to notice them, the door wa_gain opened cautiously, and as instantly closed as before. She then steppe_oftly to her chamber, which was the next but one to this, but, having pu_own her lamp, returned to an obscure corner of the corridor, to observe th_roceedings of this half-seen person, and to ascertain, whether it was indee_ontoni.
Having waited in silent expectation for a few minutes, with her eyes fixed o_he door, it was again opened, and the same person appeared, whom she now kne_o be Montoni. He looked cautiously round, without perceiving her, then, stepping forward, closed the door, and left the corridor. Soon after, Emil_eard the door fastened on the inside, and she withdrew to her chamber, wondering at what she had witnessed.
It was now twelve o'clock. As she closed her casement, she heard footsteps o_he terrace below, and saw imperfectly, through the gloom, several person_dvancing, who passed under the casement. She then heard the clink of arms, and, in the next moment, the watch- word; when, recollecting the command sh_ad overheard from Montoni, and the hour of the night, she understood, tha_hese men were, for the first time, relieving guard in the castle. Havin_istened till all was again still, she retired to sleep.