« 前へ次へ »
the Count; who grew more heart-stricken and tender daily, as the completion of his wishes was delayed, and his desires goaded by contradiction. The Abbé has quoted one portion of a letter written by him ; here is the entire performance, extracted, as the holy father said, chiefly from the romance of the Grand Cyrus':
Unhappy MAXIMILIAN unto unjust CATHERINA, MADAM,—It must needs be that I love you better than any ever did, since, notwithstanding your injustice in calling me perfidious, I love you no less than I did before. On the contrary, my passion is so violent, and your unjust accusation makes me so sensible of it, that if you did but know the resentments of my soule, you would confess your selfe the most cruell and unjust woman in the world. You shall, ere long, Madam, see me at your feete; and as you were my first passion, so you will be my last. On
my knees I will tell you, at the first handsom opportunity, that the grandure of my passion can only be equalled by your beauty; it hath driven me to such a fatall necessity, as that I cannot hide the misery which you have caused. Sure, the hostil goddes have, to plague the, ordayned that fatal marridge, by which you are bound to one so infinitly below you in degree. Were that bond of ill-omind Hymen cut in twayn witch binds you, I swear, Madam, that my happiniss woulde be to offer you this hande, as I have my harte long agoe.
And I praye you to beare in mind this declaracion, which I here sign with my hande, and witch I pray you may one day be called upon to prove the truth on. Beleave me, Madam, that there is none in the world who doth more honor to your vertue than myselfe, nor who wishes your happiness with more zeal than-MAXIMILIAN.
“From my lodgings in Whitehall, this 25th of February. “ To the incomparable Catherina, these, with a scarlet satten petticoat."
The Count had debated about the sentence promising marriage in event of Hayes's death ; but the honest Abbé cut these scruples very short, by saying, justly, that, because he wrote in that manner, there was no need for him to act so; that he had better not sign and address the note in full; and
that he presumed his Excellency was not quite so timid as to fancy that the woman would follow him all the way to Germany, when his diplomatic duties would be ended; as they would soon.'
The receipt of this billet caused such a flush of joy and exultation to unhappy happy Mrs. Catherine, that Wood did not fail to remark it, and speedily learned the contents of the letter. Wood had no need to bid the poor wretch guard it very carefully : it never fron at day forth left her; it was her title of nobility,-her pass to rank, wealth, happiness. She began to look down on her neighbours; her manner to her husband grew more than ordinarily scornful; the poor, vain wretch longed to tell her secret, and to take her place openly in the world. She a Countess, and Tom a Count's son ! She felt that she should royally become the title !
About this time—and Hayes was very much frightened at the prevalence of the rumour--it suddenly began to be bruited about in his quarter that he was going to quit the country. The story was in everybody's mouth; people used to sneer, when he turned pale, and wept, and passionately denied it. It was said, too, that Mrs. Hayes was not his wife, but his mistress-everybody had this story,-his mistress, whom he treated most cruelly, and was about to desert. The tale of the blow which had felled her to the ground was known in all quarters. When he declared that the woman tried to stab him, nobody believed him : the women said he would have been served right if she had done so. How had these stories
gone abroad ? “Three days more, and I will fly,” thought Hayes : "and the world may say what it pleases.”
"Ay, fool, fly-away số swiftly that Fate cannot overtake thee: hide so cunningly that Death shall not find thy place of refuge!
BEING A PREPARATION FOR THE END.
The reader, doubtless, doth now partly understand what dark acts of conspiracy are beginning to gather around Mr. Hayes; and possibly hath comprehended
1. That if the rumour was universally credited which declared that Mrs. Catherine was only Hayes's mistress, and not his wife,
She might, if she so inclined, marry another person; and thereby not injure her fame and excite wonderment, but actually add to her reputation.
2. That if all the world did steadfastly believe that Mr. Hayes intended to desert this woman, after having cruelly maltreated her,
The direction which his journey might take would be of no consequence; and he might go to Highgate, to Edinburgh, to Constantinople, nay, down a well, and no soul would care to ask whither he had gone.
These points Mr. Hayes had not considered duly. The latter case had been put to him, and annoyed him, as we have seen; the former had actually been pressed upon him by Mrs. Hayes herself; who, in almost the only communication she had had with him since their last quarrel, had asked him, angrily, in the presence of Wood and her son, whether he had dared to utter such lies, and how it came to pass that the neighbours looked scornfully at her, and avoided her?
To this charge Mr. Hayes pleaded, very meekly, that he was not guilty; and young Billings, taking him by the collar, and clinching his fist in his face, swore a dreadful oath that he would have the life of him, if he dared abuse his mother. Mrs. Hayes then spoke of the general report abroad, that he was going to desert her; which, if he attempted to do, Mr, Billings vowed that he would follow him to Jerusalem, and have his blood. These threats, and the insolent language of young Billings, rather calmed Hayes than agitated him: he longed to be on his journey; but he began to hope that no obstacle would be placed in the way of it. For the first time since many days, he began to enjoy a feeling something akin to security, and could look with tolerable confidence towards a comfortable completion of his own schemes of treason.
These points being duly settled, we are now arrived, O public, at a point for which the author's soul hath been yearning ever since this history commenced.
We are now come, O critic, to a stage of the work when this tale begins to assume an appearance so interestingly horrific, that you must
have a heart of stone if you are not interested by' it. .O candid and discerning reader, who art sick of the hideous scenes of brutal bloodshed which have of late come forth from pens of certain eminent wits; * if
turn away disgusted from the book, remember that this passage hath not been written for you, or such as you, who have taste to know and hate the style in which it hath been composed; but for the public, which hath no such taste :--for the public, which can patronize four different representations of Jack Sheppard, for the public, whom its literary providers have gorged with blood and foul Newgate garbage, and to whom we poor creatures, humbly following at the tail of our great high-priests and prophets of the press, may, as in duty bound, offer some small gift of our own : a little mite truly, but given with good will. Come up, then, fair Catherine and brave Count;-appear, gallant Brock and faultless Billings ;-hasten hither, honest John Hayes : the former chapters are but flowers in which we have been decking you for the sacrifice. Ascend to the altar, ye innocent lambs, and prepare for the final act: lo ! the knife is sharpened, and the sacrificer ready! Stretch your throats, sweet ones, for the public is thirsty, and must have blood !
CHAPTER THE LAST.
THAT Mr. Hayes had some notion of the attachment of Monsieur de Galgenstein for his wife is very certain : the man could not but perceive that she was more gaily dressed, and more frequently absent than usual ; and must have been quite aware that from the day of the quarrel until the present period, Catherine had never asked him for a shilling for the house expenses. He had not the heart to offer, however; nor, in truth, did she seem to remember that money was due. : She received, in fact, many sums from the tender Count. Tom was likewise liberally provided by the same personage; who was, moreover, continually sending presents of various kinds to the person on whom his affections were centred.
One of these gifts was a hamper of choice mountain-wine,
* This was written in 1840.
which had been some weeks in the house, and excited the longing of Mr. Hayes; who loved wine very much. This liquor was generally drank by Wood and Billings, who applauded it greatly; and many times, in passing through the back-parlour, which he had to traverse in order to reach the stair, Hayes had cast a tender eye towards the drink; of which, had he dared, he would have partaken i
On the ist of March, in the year 1726, Mr. Hayes had gathered together almost the whole sum with which he intended to decamp; and having on that very day recovered the amount of a bill which he thought almost hopeless, he returned home in tolerable good-humour; and feeling, so near was his period of departure, something like security. Nobody had attempted the least violence on him: besides, he was armed with pistols, had his money in bills and a belt about his person, and really reasoned with himself that there was no danger for him to apprehend:
He entered the house about dusk, at five o'clock. Mrs. Hayes was absent with Mr. Billings; only Mr. Wood was smoking, according to his wont, in the little back-parlour; and as Mr. Hayes passed, the old gentleman addressed him in a friendly voice, and, wondering that he had been such a stranger, invited him to sit and take a glass of wine. There was a light and a foreman in the shop : Mr. Hayes gave his injunctions to that person, and saw no objection to Mr. Wood's invitation.
The conversation, at first a little stiff between the two gentlemen, began speedily to grow more easy and confidential : and so particularly bland and good-humoured was Mr. or Doctor Wood, that his companion was quite caught, and softened by the charm of his manner; and the pair became as good friends as in the former days of their intercourse.
"I wish you would come down sometimes of evenings,” quoth Doctor Wood; "for, though no book-learned man, Mr. Hayes, look you, you are a man of the world, and I can't abide the society of boys. There's Tom, now: since this tiff with Mrs. Cat, the scoundrel plays the Grand Turk here! The pair of 'em, betwixt them, have completely gotten the upper hand of you. Confess that you are beaten, Master Hayes, and don't like the boy?”