King rendered to her, and treated him with | ery. The whispering breeze, the murmuring marked kindness. The happy youth allowed water, the dying notes of the music, lulled him himself to be misled by her conduct, and re to sleep. He slumbered on the stone bench, joiced in what he was pleased to call his great and forgot his grief, though only for a short triumph.

time, Milton stood leaning against a pillar, and Was it a mere accident or mysterious symgazing with a bleeding heart upon the gay pathy? No sooner had Alice finished the last

Whenever Alice flitted past bim at the dance than she suddenly escaped from the host side of his friend, the most profound grief filled of her admirers and hastened from the hot ballbim anew, and he felt like crying out aloud in room into the garden. Some irresistible and his agony. While rejoicing in the success of mysterious force drew her toward the poet, the happy King, he charged Alice with faith- whose absence she could scarcely have noticed. lessness, though he himself had wished that Like a white apparition she glided through the she should give him up. He accused the whole silent alleys, past the moonlit marble statues female sex of fickleness, levity, and want of of pagan gods. She heard only the throbbing principle. Instead of blaming himself, he of her agitated heart, whose impetuous pulsablamed the purest of creatures, and transferred tions threatened to burst her airy dress. She his own guilt to the beloved of his heart. He dared not confess even to herself what had led could no longer bear to look upon her; the her hither. She hoped and yet feared to meet air threatened to stifle him, the ceiling of the the poet here. If she had known that she room menaced to fall down on him, and the would find him, she would not bave come; her dancers transformed themselves into infernal virgin pride would have rebelled against it; demons deriding him by their boisterous mirth. she followed only the fascinating voice of a Scarcely knowing what he did, he rushed into vague presentiment, without being fully conthe open air. The garden was bathed in silvery scious what she was about to do. Thus she moonlight. Red and green lamps were burn- strolled through the garden without a definite ing on the balustrade in honor of the festival; object, and yet pursuing one, deceiving herself flaming pitch-rings were blazing here and there and absorbed in melancholy dreams. Every amid the trees, and shedding a lurid light on noise caused her to start like a chased roe; the the green foliage. Even here there was too falling of a leaf, the rustling of a drowsy bird, much light for the poet, and the noise of the the slightest note froze her blood. Her foot festival pursued him scornfully. He quickly hesitated very often, but an inward longing, descended the steps leading to the dark bowers for which she was unable to account, urged her and shady alleys, soon reached the solitude he on with magic power. She felt as though she longed for, and the notes of the music pene would meet Milton here and demand of him an trated to him only as faintly as the dying avowal of the secret reasons which caused him echoes of lost happiness.

to avoid her. He was to defend himself and On the banks of the pond, where the waters break his mysterious silence. But even this seemed to utter low moans, and where he had purpose rose in her soul only like a distant disonce passed the most blissful hours at Alice's solving view, and vanished almost immediately side, he gave way to his melancholy dreams. after it had appeared. Another will overcame The stillness of nature calmed his wildly agi- her own and paralyzed her strength; she tottated heart, and the despair which had seized tered like a somnambulist in her night-walk, him in the ballroom passed into a gentle rev- I until she reached her favorite place on the bank

of the pond. Here she found Milton slumbering “You are too sagacious," replied Digby, in the moonlight; his pale face beamed toward scornfully,“ to do any thing of the kind. Even her, as if transfigured. She did not know though your voice were heard, which I think whether she should stay or flee; with bated is utterly impossible, your reputation would be breath she gazed at the sleeper, fascinated in lost. Therefore, you had better be reasonable spite of herself by meeting him so suddenly. and submit to your fate." Thus she resembled the chaste goddess at the He pressed Alice with passionate impetuosity moment she found the sleeping Endymion for to his breast, and tried to cover her cheeks the first time in the silent forest. She shud- and neck with burning kisses. dered with coy timidity, but her feet refused “Let me go!” faltered out Alice, almost to move. She would have liked to bend over fainting with dismay. him and breathe a gentle kiss on his noble “Do not attempt to disengage yourself from forehead. The happy poet might have been my arms. I am not afraid of your anger or aroused by it, and have succumbed to this new your cries. Do you think I did not take the temptation; he would then have lacked cour necessary steps beforehand in order not to be age to sacrifice such a love to the demands of disturbed ? Why do you resist me and disfriendship.

play so much prudery now? I know what Approaching footsteps aroused Alice from brought you here—I know that your lover is her contemplation; it was necessary that no still concealed in the garden. You are in my one should see her here, and she disappeared power; your honor, your reputation, is in my quickly among the trees, after casting a part- hands." ing glance on the sleeper. With a throbbing “You lie!" cried Alice, indignantly. heart she hastened back toward the illumi “Not I, but you, my beautiful lady, say nated ballroom. The footsteps pursued her what is not true. If you are really innocent, and came nearer and nearer to her ; before she why do you not shout for help? But I think was able to reach the balustrade, she felt sud- you are too sensible to resort to so extreme a denly that two strong arms encircled her. step. Do not be angry with me,

-forgive me. She uttered a low cry of surprise, and tried to You shall soon become better acquainted with disengage herself from the stranger's embrace. me, and it is my firm conviction that you will

“Keep quiet,” whispered a well-known voice then do me full justice. Above all things, I to her. "I followed you."

pledge you my word of honor that no one shall “Sir Kenelm!” cried the frightened girl. learn any thing about this occurrence. I shall “What do you want here?”

forget your little weakness and attach no “To see you and speak with you. You special importance to the childish freak, which must listen to me, for you are in my power I believe it to be. I love you none the less for now. Your efforts to escape from me will be it, and do not care about this harmless error in vain, I shall not let you go. I know full of a young heart. You see, I am a fair-minded well that you hate and detest me at this mo- man, and by no means such a were-wolf as you ment; but this is better than your indiffer- thought I was.” ence. I love you, and therefore you will love “Tell me, then, what you want of me?" asked me also.”

Alice, in a milder tone, encouraged by his ""Never!”

groaned Alice. “And if you do words, and anxious not to drive him to exnot take your hands from me, I will call for tremities. help."

“Your hand and your heart. You know


that I have sought for some time past to gain | tage will be your dwelling-place. Your foot both. You have hitherto rejected my propo- has hitherto trodden only soft carpets; a hard sals, and any other man, perhaps, would have clay-floor will be painful to it. Will you go to been deterred by your cold prudery. On me, market like the wives of other commoners, hewever, it exerted an opposite effect; for and quarrel about a farthing with the butcher difficulties stimulate my energy, and obstacles and fishwoman? Go, go! You are not desfire my courage. I do not care for enemies tined for such a lot. Your rank, your educanor women whose resistance is easily over- tion, and your beauty, assign, you a different

I am a man of different mettle from position. Such a pearl must not perish in the common mortals, and do not like to walk the filth of poverty; it is destined to adorn a beaten track of others. I wrested my first royal diadem. I will give you my hand and wife from her relatives after a serious struggle, conduct you to the right place. Become my and I am going to win my second wife in spite wife, and you shall occupy a brilliant position of herself.”

at court, become one of the leading ladies of “And you believe you will succeed in so London society, and receive the homage due doing?"

to you. A new life is in store for you there, “I have no doubt of it, for you will and a world full of splendor and pomp, intimate must listen to me. I rely on your sagacity, intercourse with the noblest and most refined which will enable you to see the folly of your men and women of the kingdom, the charms conduct. An affection unworthy of your po- and perfumes of a more elevated and pure sition has seized your heart; but on reflection atmosphere, wbich is never obscured by the you will admit that it would be preposterous mists of want and the clouds of poverty. Why for you to yield to it. Will you give your do you not reply to me? Will you accept my hand to an inexperienced young man, who is proposals ?” nothing and has nothing—a poet whose talents “Never ! ” replied Alice, resolutely. enable him at the best to write a little play Then I must compel you to accept a lot for a birthday or a similar celebration, and that will redound to your happiness. Bear in who is tolerated in good society only on ac mind that you have no other alternative than count of these talents ?"

disgrace or my hand. Your absence must “You are mistaken," replied Alice, eva have been noticed already, and maybe they sively.

are looking for you 'everywhere at this mo“Believe me, I know life and the world. ment. If they find you here, whether with Never will such a union receive the consent of me or with another man, your reputation will your parents. Will you rebel against their be gone forever. If I utter a loud word, you wishes, and take the consequences of such a will be dishonored." step? Disowned by your family, you will “I despise both your threats and your flatthen be the wife of a man who, notwithstand- teries.” ing his talents (for I do not deny that he is en Alice tried to escape again, but Digby held dowed with some), will have to work very | her in his Herculean arms so that she was unhard in order to make a living. You are ac able to stir. He relied on his strength, which, customed to splendor and luxury, and will then under similar circumstances, had often already have to struggle every day with a thousand made him victorious over feeble women. At privations. Instead of the sumptuous apart- the same time he counted upon Alice's conments of a palace, the humble rooms of a cot- / fusion, upon her anxiety, her bashfulness, and

her inexperience. He thought he would ob “Go, vain, foolish girl!” he murmured. tain his object by taking her by surprise, and “I shall know how to revenge myself. You the stubborn resistance with which he met, shall not escape your fate. But am I not mycontrary to his expectation, only fanned the self a greater fool ? Instead of remaining filame of his passions. He was one of those calm, I allowed myself to be carried away by bold, reckless men who shrink from no vio-, blind passion. It will be best for me to leave lence. In contending with her, he tore from Ludlow Castle secretly; for I can no longer her the veil in which she was wrapped, and stay here, and further sojourn would be useher dazzling shoulders and heaving bosom less: my game is lost, and I must give it up. were exposed to his voluptuous glances. This Bah! What does it all amount to ? It is sight inflamed his desires to the utmost. In- true, a hue and cry may be raised about it, and stinct and calculation urged him to risk every it may not; for, if the girl has any sense, and thing in order to accomplish his purpose; he she seems to have, she will say nothing about felt that he had already gone too far, that he it, and forbid that boorish fellow Carbury to must triumph or give up his plans forever, mention the occurrence to any one. Fortune, aside from the consequences in which this out. I am afraid, has turned her back upon me rageous attack upon the daughter of a noble here in England. Laud did not accept my house would involve him.

offer either; and if the affair of the cardinal's Alice thought that she was lost, and feared hat leaks out, it will go hard with me, and I lest she should faint. At this critical moment shall lose the remainder of my estates. I beshe uttered a loud cry. It was heard; a man

lieve it will be best for me to make a tour emerged from the shrubbery. In the moon abroad. I feel my old longing to see Italy. I light she recognized her friend Carbury. He will go, therefore, to Rome, and not take leave was by her side at once, and drew his sword. of the earl, whose farewell would probably not

“Villain !” he shouted to Digby; " defend be very friendly." yourself, and show if you are as brave when Digby hastened immediately to his room, you have to deal with men as you are against and awakened his sleeping footman. With his defenceless women."

assistance he packed his trunks, and left Ludlow But before Sir Kenelm Digby was able to Castle as stealthily as a thief. He embarked reply, and accept the challenge, Alice threw already on the following evening on a ship herself between the two men.

bound for Italy, where he intended to live for “If you are my friend,” she whispered, some time, in order to escape the consequences "sheathe your sword. No blood must be shed of his unsuccessful intrigues. for my sake. I thank you for your kind intentions, Sir Robert Carbury; give me your arm, and conduct me back to the ballroom." "And this man is not to be chastised for

CHAPTER XVIII. insulting you ?" asked Carbury, indignantly.

LUCY'S ESCAPE AND FLIGHT. "I will leave him to his conscience,” she replied, in a dignified tone.

As Digby had supposed, neither Alice nor She cast a disdainful glance on Digby, who her protector accused him, and the outrage durst not follow her. He remained for a mo which he had committed was not communiment, gnashing his teeth, and absorbed in cated to any one. The young lady had, in rethoughts of revenge.

gard to it, a brief conversation with Carbury,


which exerted an important effect upon their | Bible, while Lucy was seated opposite him, mutual fate. Carbury dropped his habitual with her needlework. When he did not read, bashfulness on this occasion, and showed that he stared seemingly into vacancy; and yet he could not only act bravely, but also think Lucy felt that he did not avert his eyes and feel in a delicate and high-minded man from her, and penetrated into the innermost

Not a doubt rose in his heart as to ber recesses of her soul. Wherever she turned, innocence, and he looked up to her, as hereto- she met his eyes, and his piercing glance folfore, as to a saint. In this manner he gained lowed her all the time. By and by his presAlice's confidence and esteem, and when he ence became almost intolerable to her. left Ludlow Castle, after the festival, like the Thus passed the joyless day; when night other guests, an inward voice told him that came, she took her candle, said good-night to his love was not entirely hopeless. Miltou her father, and went to her chamber. She and his friend departed, in gloomier spirits, 1 tried to sleep, but an inward anxiety prevented from the castle. King bad received a pressing her from doing so, and she lay with eyes open letter from his father, who called him to Ire- in her bed. Whenever she endeavored to close land. He was to set out immediately, and them, she saw before her the threatening form the separation from his friend and his beloved of her father, and his piercing glance which depressed his spirits. Never before had a froze her blood. Hour after hour went by; she separation saddened him so much; but nothing could find no rest, and vain were her efforts to remained for him but to obey.

dispel the dreadful fancies of her imagination After the excitement of the festival was by fixing her thoughts upon more pleasant over, all who had taken part in it felt a certain reminiscences. She recalled the events and weariness, which made upon no one a more scenes through which she had passed recentpainful impression than upon light-heartedly, the fairylike festival, the homage which had

Lucy Henderson. After the pomp and splen- been rendered to her, the handsome dresses ; dor which she had seen anew at the earl's and trinkets which Alice had presented to her,

castle, life at the Puritan's house had become and which she concealed now under her pillow; more offensive and irksome to her than ever. all was in vain, and her anxiety oppressed her Moreover, she was afraid lest Henderson should breast like a nightmare. discover what she had done. How easily could The clock struck midnight, when the door her participation in the performance of the of her chamber opened noiselessly. A shudder mask be betrayed to him! Her father had ran through her frame, and she closed her returned, and his gloomy features seemed to eyes involuntarily. Was it a dream or was it her guilty conscience more threatening and reality ? Old Henderson stood on the threshstern than ever before. Whenever she met bis old, and she distinctly recognized his slender, keen, piercing glance, a shudder ran through emaciated form in the moonlight. He held a her frame. Formerly he bad at least spoken flashing knife in his hand, and approached her to her, though in a rough, harsh manner; but, bed on tiptoe. since his return, he did not break his ominous Lucy made a violent effort to repress the silence; he did not ask her a single question, cry which was about to burst from her lips, and did not even inquire how she had passed and scarcely dared to breathe. He bent cauher time during his absence, which he had tiously over his daughter and touched her face hitherto never failed to do.

softly, as if to satisfy himself whether she was He sat all day at the table reading in his l asleep or not. Not a motion, not the slightest

« VorigeDoorgaan »