Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

miserable: lord Burton in Rome met with another friend, a young English noble. man, of large fortune, elegant manners, and prepossessing appearance. He was introduced to Mary, whose beauty and amiable disposition soon seemed to make a deep impression on him, and every act of common civility which his cousin displayed towards him, Charles construed into a demonstration in his favour.-"This then,” he said to himself, " is the young Englishman for whom Frederic told me that he destined his sister.”

A thousand times he cursed his own folly, in not having opened his heart to Mary at Florence, while both her brother and herself yet held in mind any little service he had rendered her; but he had been then prevented by discovering lord Burton in that Wilmot so well acquainted with the story of the baroness, and now he resolved, and re-resolved, but feared to declare his feelings, and in the mean while remained entirely altered from 'his

former

mingle the most kind solicitude and the, most unrepressed marks of attachment, with a gentle, even perhaps scrupulous delicacy of conduct that Maryfelt deeply; but alarm became the predominant feeling of her mind, as, one hour of the night slipped away after another, without the return of the robber's sister, especially when after some loud noise and laughter below, steps were heard ascending the stairs, and evidently, from their heavy fall, not those of a woman. Mary drew close to her cousin, and Charles threw his arm round her, holding a pistol in his right hand, resolyed to defend her with the last drop of his blood, for he had heard of many outrages committed by these banditti on women in their power, which made him shudder for

the fate of one so much beloved. The · steps however turned another way, and

assuring her that he would die to save her from injury, he pressed a kiss upon : Mary's hand; and if he felt an inclination to have made it her lips instead, he could

scarcely

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

prived of in character. Yet there are some in every age, either of civilization or rudeness, that will redeem the name of the one from insensibility, the other from barbarism. There are a few perhaps, even in the present day, that feel brightly.

Whatever were the faults or failings of Charles Melville, (and he had many,) coldness of heart was not amongst them. In some instances, perhaps his feelings were morbidly sensible, and in the present instance, they were excited to a degree that deprived him of all peace. He was now too surely convinced that his affection for Mary had been one of long existence, and saw as clearly as any body the follies he had been guilty of, and the deceits he had practised on himself, merely because he did not choose to be dictated to in any. respect. He felt that he did not deserve her, and he feared that she might see his conduct in the same light. It was true he possessed advantages which no other mán did, in the constant opportunity of

winning

winning her affection; but these very ad. vantages, thrown away as he had hitherto done, might prove the greatest detriment

worse than if it had never occurred.

Rather more than a month had passed since their arrival at Rome, and in three days they were to begin their journey to Naples. At breakfast, he fancied Mary was more cold than ordinary, though once or twice he caught her eyes straying towards his countenance with a look of some anxiety; but they were instantly again withdrawn, and she continued silent and reserved.

Lord Burton had fallen into one of those melancholy fits of thought that sometimes absorbed him, and at length, after having concluded the meal almost in silence, Charles rose to take a walk through the city, as had often been his custom to do entirely by himself, for society had become annoying to him.

“I suppose you will not return till din

ner?”

look," said the woman; “ follow me quietly, both of you;" and blowing out the lamp, she opened the anti-room door. ;

Charles came immediately after, and looking down the stairs, he could see the moonlight, which he supposed to come from the window of the room below, shining brightly upon the last three steps. Mary hung upon him, breathless with agitation, and the robber's sister, with a calm, still step, led the way down, pausing every moment, for fear her pace, noiseless as it was, should have awakened the attention of any of her brother's companions. But all was silent and peaceful, and they had got nearly to the bottom of the staircase, when one of the steps gave a loud creak under Charles's heavy-foot. The woman started, and caught him tight by the wrist, with a look of horror that plainly spoke what would be the consequence of discovery; then holding up her finger, she listened for a moment with a look of intense attention. There was but

one

« AnteriorContinuar »