« 前へ次へ »
now. She acted by the prudent counsels of a man who really took a deep interest in the fate and welfare of his young proselyte. Her beauty, intellectualised and softened by the life she had led, wrought promptly on the heart, or rather the senses, of De Villeneuve. He proposed to satisfy her scruplesma clandestine marriage, performed by a Romish priest-knowing what he supposed Annie, in her young innocence, knew not, that such a marriage between a Catholic and Protestant could not be binding.
Annie privately took counsel of her confidential priest, consented, and the ceremony was performed. For some days, De Villeneuve lingered at Cologne; Annie and he met privately, and he then told the mourning bride that he must tear himself from her, but that, on his return home, he would contrive to take her with him. Annie sobbed and fainted, and tore her hair, and beat her breast; but De Villeneuve left her all the same.
Yes, he left his victim with a light heart, for he had, as he fancied, wrought her ruin, and now his very soul was at Ellen's feet. He was the bearer of a letter from Sir Peter Riskwell to Mr. Lindsay : when given to him, this letter was sealed, and certainly he had never dreamt of breaking that seal. However, “the means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done.” The Custom-house officers at Antwerp had broken the seal; while De Vil. leneuve's mind was full of Annie, he never thought of this letter, when Annie was become nothing to him (as was now the case); in opening his pocket-book, the letter fell out. He remembered that Sir Peter had told him it was on important business. He looked at it, his colour rose, his heart beat, his hand trembled ; for one moment a sense of honour and chivalry held out, against a vile curiosity and a base and interested treachery, and the next he deliberately unfolded and perused the letter.
What he there read we are not yet at liberty to reveal, but, instead of stopping to partake of the choice repast he had ordered at Manheim, he commanded post-horses, fee'd the postillions, travelled night and day, and arrived at Winterthur, on a bright spring morning, about a week after the appearance there of Miss Babie Douglas.
When, with a pale cheek and beating heart, he rushed through the beautiful and winding lanes of the villa where the Lindsays dwelt, he met Babie Douglas, dressed in fanciful mourning, with a black velvet cap, surmounted by an erect black plume, and decked with bugle tassels and jet butterflies, she was leaning on, or rather hanging to, the huge arm of the lion of the age, Ebenezer Grunter!
Alas! alas ! shall we withdraw the veil, and shew that even philosophers can be weak! Babie and her puir twa hoondred have withdrawn great Grunter from the pleasant paths of peace and science, to lead him first along
the flowery haunts of flirtation, and then up the thorny steeps of love! Yes, Ebenezer Grunter has left book-making for love-making. Weep, weep, ye Nine ! and smile and triumph,
“ Foam-cradled nphrodite, laughter-fed.”
So full were Babie and her Ebenezer of their love, their“nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles,” that the advent of the Count was to them of little importance, and they did not retrace their steps in his honour, but merely directed him where to find Ellen and Mr. Lindsay. He heard that Mr. Lindsay was at home with Miss Tibby, but that Ellen had roamed into a neighbouring pine-forest, which rose behind the gardens of the villa, and where she was wont, attended only by a huge, curly, red dog, a Swiss of a peculiar breed, to whom she was much attached, to sit, enjoying the fragrance of the budding pines, the beauty of the opening mosses, wild-flowers, and strawberry-blossoms, and the light and shade, which, chequered as through cathedral aisles, the vistas and archways formed by the tall, the slender, and the graceful pines.
There it was Ellen's wont, while Mr. Lindsay wrote or read in his study, to “sit in the centre, and enjoy bright days.” Now, with “ Shakespeare's self, she speaks and smiles alone”-now roams through the romantic Past with that great magician - Walter Scott! --now weeps and trembles over the mournful truths, the beautiful but sad philosophy, and the wild spirit-stirring poetry of that great mental anatomist, who, if he ranks elsewhere as the heir at once of Shakespeare and Sir Walter, has established, in those searching and most mournful papers, collected under the title of “ The Student,” a right to rank, as an essayist, beside Addison and Johnson.
And this casket of gems, which Tragedy might be proud to wear, these stars of thought, illumining the darkness of so mournful a night (for what else is life, when painted as it is ?),