« ZurückWeiter »
the door with the instrument, when he observed its singular beauty, and withheld the blow. It appeared on the first glance to be of ebony, so dark and close was its grain, and so high its polish ; but it proved to be only of larch-wood, of the growth of Provence, then famous for its forests of larch. The beauty of its polished hue, and of its delicate carvings, determined the count to spare this door, and he returned to that leading from the back staircase, which being at length forced, he entered the first ante-room, followed by Henri and a few of the most courageous of his servants, the rest waiting the event of the inquiry on the stairs and landing-place.
All was silence in the chambers through which the count passed, and having reached the saloon, he called loudly upon Ludovico; after which, still receiving no answer, he threw open the door of the bed-room, and entered.
The profound stillness within confirmed his apprehensions for Ludovico, for not even the breathings of a person in sleep were heard ; and his uncertainty was not soon terminated, since the shutters being all closed, the chamber was too dark for any object to be distinguished in it.
The count bade a servant open them, who, as he crossed the room to do so, stumbled over something, and fell to the floor, when his cry occasioned such a panic among the few of his fellows who had ventured thus far, that they instantly fled, and the count and Henri were left to finish the adventure.
Henri then sprang across the room, and, opening a window-shutter, they perceived that the man had fallen over a chair near the hearth, in which Ludovico had been sitting ;--for he sat there no longer, nor could anywhere be seen by the imperfect light that was admitted into the
apartment. The count, seriously alarmed, now opened other shutters, that he might be enabled to examine farther; and Ludovico not yet appearing, hè stood for a moment suspended in astonishment, and scarcely trusting his senses, till his eyes glancing on the bed, he advanced to examine whether he was there asleep. No person, however, was in it; and he proceeded to the Oriel, where every thing remained as on the preceding night; but Ludovico was nowhere to be found.
The count now checked his amazement, considering that Ludovico might have left the chamber during the night, overcome by the terrors which their lonely desolation and the recollected reports concerning them had inspired. Yet, if this had been the fact, the man would naturally have sought society, and his fellow-servants had all declared they had not seen him; the door of the outer room also had been found fastened, with the key on the inside ; it was impossible, therefore, for him to have passed through that; and all the outer đoors of this suite were found, on examination, to be bolted and locked, with the keys also within them. The count, being then compelled to believe that the lad had escaped through the casements, next examined them: but such as opened wide enough to admit the body of a man were found to be carefully secured either by iron bars or by shutters, and no vestige appeared of any person having attempted to pass them; neither was it probable that Ludovico would have incurred the risk of breaking his neck by leaping from a window, when he might have walked safely through a door.
The count's amazement did not admit of words; but he returned once more to examine the bed-room, where was no appearance of disorder, except that occasioned by the late overthrow of the chair, near which had stood a small
table; and on this Ludovico's sword, his lamp, the book he had been reading, and the remains of a flask of wine, still remained. At the foot of the table, too, was the basket, with some fragments of provision and wood.
Henri and the servant now uttered their astonishment without reserve, and though the count said little, there was a seriousness in his manner that expressed much. peared that Ludovico must have quitted these rooms by some concealed passage, for the count could not believe that any supernatural means had occasioned this event; yet, if there was any such passage, it seemed inexplicable why he should retreat through it; and it was equally surprising that not even the smallest vestige should ap ear by which his progress could be traced. In the rooms, everything remained as much in order as if he had just walked out by the common way.
The count himself assisted in lifting the arras with which the bed-chamber, saloon, and one of the ante-rooms were hung, that he might discover if any door had been concealed behind it; but after a laborious search, none was found; and he at length quitted the apartments, having secured the door of the last ante-chamber, the key of which be took into his own possession. He then gave orders that strict search should be made for Ludovico, not only in the château, but in the neighbourhood, and retiring with Henri to his closet, they remained there in conversation for a considerable time; and whatever was the subject of it, Henri from this hour lost much of his vivacity; and his manners were particularly grave and reserved, whenever the topic which now agitated the count's family with wonder and alarm, was introduced.*
* The château had been inhabited before the count came into its possession. He was not aware that the apparently outward walls contained
a series of passages and staircases, which led to unknown vaults underground; and, therefore, he never thought of looking for a door in those parts of the chamber which he supposed to be next to the air, In these was a communication with the room. The château (for we are not here in Udolpho) was on the sea-shore in Languedoc; íts vaults had become the store-house of pirates, who did their best to keep up the supernatural delusions that hindered people from searching the premises; and these pirates had carried Ludovico away.
FROM THE NOVEL OF “NATURE AND ART,” BY MRS. INCHBALD.
ELIZABETH INCHBALD, an amusing dramatist, a writer of stories of the highest order for sentiment and passion, and a beautiful woman, admirable for attractiveness of almost every kind, especially candour and self-denial, was daughter of a farmer in Suffolk, of the name of Simpson. She married an actor, a very worthy man, who died not long after their union. She performed on the stage herself for some years, in spite of an impediment in her speech, which seems to have been generally under control; and then settled down into a successful authoress, courted by high and low, often with a view to marriage. In one or two instances offers would evidently have been accepted had they been made, but she was superior to all that were unconnected with the heart.
She maintained some relatives at the expense of personal sacrifices that sometimes left her without a fire in winter; and she died at a respectable lodging-house in Kensington, where she was buried in the churchyard. She wrote the dramas of The Midnight Hour, The Mogul Tale, Such Things Are, &c.; and, besides the novel from which the following incident is taken, was authoress of The Simple Story, one of the deepest-felt and best-written tales in the language. We had not the honor of knowing Mrs. Inchbald; but we love her memory for many reasons one of which is, that a mother who possessed similar virtues was fond of those novels, particularly Nature and Art, and recommended it strongly to us in our boyhood. Passages more beautiful and pathetic than those which we have selected are not to be found in the whole circle of English prose.
The reader will observe that the warning is not aimed at lawyers in particular. The writer would have done nothing so unjust. A