THIS slender narrative has no pretensions to the regularity of a story,
or the development of situations and feelings; it is but a slight
sketch, delivered nearly as it was narrated to me by one of the humblest
of the actors concerned: nor will I spin out a circumstance interesting
principally from its singularity and truth, but narrate, as concisely as
I can, how I was surprised on visiting what seemed a ruined tower,
crowning a bleak promontory overhanging the sea, that flows between
Wales and Ireland, to find that though the exterior preserved all the
savage rudeness that betokened many a war with the elements, the
interior was fitted up somewhat in the guise of a summer-house, for it
was too small to deserve any other name. It consisted but of the
ground-floor, which served as an entrance, and one room above, which was
reached by a staircase made out of the thickness of the wall. This
chamber was floored and carpeted, decorated with elegant furniture; and,
above all, to attract the attention and excite curiosity, there hung
over the chimney-piece—for to preserve the apartment from damp a
fireplace had been built evidently since it had assumed a guise so
dissimilar to the object of its construction—a picture simply painted in
water-colours, which deemed more than any part of the adornments of the
room to be at war with the rudeness of the building, the solitude in
which it was placed, and the desolation of the surrounding scenery. This
drawing represented a lovely girl in the very pride and bloom of youth;
her dress was simple, in the fashion of the beginning of the eighteenth
century; her countenance was embellished by a look of mingled innocence
and intelligence, to which was added the imprint of serenity of soul and
natural cheerfulness. She was reading one of those folio romances which
have so long been the delight of the enthusiastic and young; her
mandoline was at her feet—her parroquet perched on a huge mirror near
her; the arrangement of furniture and hangings gave token of a luxurious
dwelling, and her attire also evidently that of home and privacy, yet
bore with it an appearance of ease and girlish ornament, as if she
wished to please. Beneath this picture was inscribed in golden letters,
“The Invisible Girl.”

Rambling about a country nearly uninhabited, having lost my way, and
being overtaken by a shower, I had lighted on this dreary-looking
tenement, which seemed to rock in the blast, and to be hung up there as
the very symbol of desolation. I was gazing wistfully and cursing
inwardly my stars which led me to a ruin that could afford no shelter,
though the storm began to pelt more seriously than before, when I saw an
old woman’s head popped out from a kind of loophole, and as suddenly
withdrawn;—a minute after a feminine voice called to me from within, and
penetrating a little brambly maze that screened a door, which I had not
before observed, so skilfully had the planter succeeded in concealing
art with nature, I found the good dame standing on the threshold and
inviting me to take refuge within. “I had just come up from our cot hard
by,” she said, “to look after the things, as I do every day, when the
rain came on—will ye walk up till it is over?” I was about to observe
that the cot hard by, at the venture of a few rain drops, was better
than a ruined tower, and to ask my kind hostess whether “the things”
were pigeons or crows that she was come to look after, when the matting
of the floor and the carpeting of the staircase struck my eye. I was
still more surprised when I saw the room above; and beyond all, the
picture and its singular inscription, naming her invisible, whom the
painter had coloured forth into very agreeable visibility, awakened my
most lively curiosity; the result of this, of my exceeding politeness
towards the old woman, and her own natural garrulity, was a kind of
garbled narrative which my imagination eked out, and future inquiries
rectified, till it assumed the following form.

Some years before, in the afternoon of a September day, which, though
tolerably fair, gave many tokens of a tempestuous night, a gentleman
arrived at a little coast town about ten miles from this place; he
expressed his desire to hire a boat to carry him to the town of —— about
fifteen miles farther on the coast. The menaces which the sky held forth
made the fishermen loathe to venture, till at length two, one the father
of a numerous family, bribed by the bountiful reward the stranger
promised, the other, the son of my hostess, induced by youthful daring,
agreed to undertake the voyage. The wind was fair, and they hoped to
make good way before nightfall, and to get into port ere the rising of
the storm. They pushed off with good cheer, at least the fishermen did;
as for the stranger, the deep mourning which he wore was not half so
black as the melancholy that wrapt his mind. He looked as if he had
never smiled—as if some unutterable thought, dark as night and bitter as
death, had built its nest within his bosom, and brooded therein
eternally; he did not mention his name; but one of the villagers
recognised him as Henry Vernon, the son of a baronet who possessed a
mansion about three miles distant from the town for which he was bound.
This mansion was almost abandoned by the family; but Henry had, in a
romantic fit, visited it about three years before, and Sir Peter had
been down there during the previous spring for about a couple of months.

The boat did not make so much way as was expected; the breeze failed
them as they got out to sea, and they were fain with oar as well as sail
to try to weather the promontory that jutted out between them and the
spot they desired to reach. They were yet far distant when the shifting
wind began to exert its strength, and to blow with violent though
unequal blasts. Night came on pitchy dark, and the howling waves rose
and broke with frightful violence, menacing to overwhelm the tiny bark
that dared resist their fury. They were forced to lower every sail, and
take to their oars; one man was obliged to bale out the water, and
Vernon himself took an oar, and rowing with desperate energy, equalled
the force of the more practised boatmen. There had been much talk
between the sailors before the tempest came on; now, except a brief
command, all were silent. One thought of his wife and children, and
silently cursed the caprice of the stranger that endangered in its
effects, not only his life, but their welfare; the other feared less,
for he was a daring lad, but he worked hard, and had no time for speech;
while Vernon bitterly regretting the thoughtlessness which had made him
cause others to share a peril, unimportant as far as he himself was
concerned, now tried to cheer them with a voice full of animation and
courage, and now pulled yet more strongly at the oar he held. The only
person who did not seem wholly intent on the work he was about, was the
man who baled; every now and then he gazed intently round, as if the sea
held afar off, on its tumultuous waste, some object that he strained his
eyes to discern. But all was blank, except as the crests of the high
waves showed themselves, or far out on the verge of the horizon, a kind
of lifting of the clouds betokened greater violence for the blast. At
length he exclaimed, “Yes, I see it!—the larboard oar!—now! if we can
make yonder light, we are saved!” Both the rowers instinctively turned
their heads,—but cheerless darkness answered their gaze.

“You cannot see it,” cried their companion, “but we are nearing it; and,
please God, we shall outlive this night.” Soon he took the oar from
Vernon’s hand, who, quite exhausted, was failing in his strokes. He rose
and looked for the beacon which promised them safety;—it glimmered with
so faint a ray, that now he said, “I see it;” and again, “it is
nothing:” still, as they made way, it dawned upon his sight, growing
more steady and distinct as it beamed across the lurid waters, which
themselves became smoother, so that safety seemed to arise from the
bosom of the ocean under the influence of that flickering gleam.

“What beacon is it that helps us at our need?” asked Vernon, as the men,
now able to manage their oars with greater ease, found breath to answer
his question.

“A fairy one, I believe,” replied the elder sailor, “yet no less a true:
it burns in an old tumble-down tower, built on the top of a rock which
looks over the sea. We never saw it before this summer; and now each
night it is to be seen,—at least when it is looked for, for we cannot
see it from our village;—and it is such an out-of-the-way place that no
one has need to go near it, except through a chance like this. Some say
it is burnt by witches, some say by smugglers; but this I know, two
parties have been to search, and found nothing but the bare walls of the
tower. All is deserted by day, and dark by night; for no light was to be
seen while we were there, though it burned sprightly enough when we were
out at sea.”

“I have heard say,” observed the younger sailor, “it is burnt by the
ghost of a maiden who lost her sweetheart in these parts; he being
wrecked, and his body found at the foot of the tower: she goes by the
name among us of the ‘Invisible Girl.’”

The voyagers had now reached the landing-place at the foot of the tower.
Vernon cast a glance upward,—the light was still burning. With some
difficulty, struggling with the breakers, and blinded by night, they
contrived to get their little bark to shore, and to draw her up on the
beach. They then scrambled up the precipitous pathway, overgrown by
weeds and underwood, and, guided by the more experienced fisherman, they
found the entrance to the tower; door or gate there was none, and all
was dark as the tomb, and silent and almost as cold as death.

“This will never do,” said Vernon; “surely our hostess will show her
light, if not herself, and guide our darkling steps by some sign of life
and comfort.”

“We will get to the upper chamber,” said the sailor, “if I can but hit
upon the broken-down steps; but you will find no trace of the Invisible
Girl nor her light either, I warrant.”

“Truly a romantic adventure of the most disagreeable kind,” muttered
Vernon, as he stumbled over the unequal ground; “she of the beacon-light
must be both ugly and old, or she would not be so peevish and

With considerable difficulty, and after divers knocks and bruises, the
adventurers at length succeeded in reaching the upper storey; but all
was blank and bare, and they were fain to stretch themselves on the hard
floor, when weariness, both of mind and body, conduced to steep their
senses in sleep.

Long and sound were the slumbers of the mariners. Vernon but forgot
himself for an hour; then throwing off drowsiness, and finding his rough
couch uncongenial to repose, he got up and placed himself at the hole
that served for a window—for glass there was none, and there being not
even a rough bench, he leant his back against the embrasure, as the only
rest he could find. He had forgotten his danger, the mysterious beacon,
and its invisible guardian: his thoughts were occupied on the horrors of
his own fate, and the unspeakable wretchedness that sat like a nightmare
on his heart.

It would require a good-sized volume to relate the causes which had
changed the once happy Vernon into the most woful mourner that ever
clung to the outer trappings of grief, as slight though cherished
symbols of the wretchedness within. Henry was the only child of Sir
Peter Vernon, and as much spoiled by his father’s idolatry as the old
baronet’s violent and tyrannical temper would permit. A young orphan was
educated in his father’s house, who in the same way was treated with
generosity and kindness, and yet who lived in deep awe of Sir Peter’s
authority, who was a widower; and these two children were all he had to
exert his power over, or to whom to extend his affection. Rosina was a
cheerful-tempered girl, a little timid, and careful to avoid displeasing
her protector; but so docile, so kind-hearted, and so affectionate, that
she felt even less than Henry the discordant spirit of his parent. It is
a tale often told; they were playmates and companions in childhood, and
lovers in after days. Rosina was frightened to imagine that this secret
affection, and the vows they pledged, might be disapproved of by Sir
Peter. But sometimes she consoled herself by thinking that perhaps she
was in reality her Henry’s destined bride, brought up with him under the
design of their future union; and Henry, while he felt that this was not
the case, resolved to wait only until he was of age to declare and
accomplish his wishes in making the sweet Rosina his wife. Meanwhile he
was careful to avoid premature discovery of his intentions, so to secure
his beloved girl from persecution and insult. The old gentleman was very
conveniently blind; he lived always in the country, and the lovers spent
their lives together, unrebuked and uncontrolled. It was enough that
Rosina played on her mandoline, and sang Sir Peter to sleep every day
after dinner; she was the sole female in the house above the rank of a
servant, and had her own way in the disposal of her time. Even when Sir
Peter frowned, her innocent caresses and sweet voice were powerful to
smooth the rough current of his temper. If ever human spirit lived in an
earthly paradise, Rosina did at this time: her pure love was made happy
by Henry’s constant presence; and the confidence they felt in each
other, and the security with which they looked forward to the future,
rendered their path one of roses under a cloudless sky. Sir Peter was
the slight drawback that only rendered their _tête-à-tête_ more
delightful, and gave value to the sympathy they each bestowed on the
other. All at once an ominous personage made its appearance in Vernon
Place, in the shape of a widow sister of Sir Peter, who, having
succeeded in killing her husband and children with the effects of her
vile temper, came, like a harpy, greedy for new prey, under her
brother’s roof. She too soon detected the attachment of the unsuspicious
pair. She made all speed to impart her discovery to her brother, and at
once to restrain and inflame his rage. Through her contrivance Henry was
suddenly despatched on his travels abroad, that the coast might be clear
for the persecution of Rosina; and then the richest of the lovely girl’s
many admirers, whom, under Sir Peter’s single reign, she was allowed,
nay, almost commanded, to dismiss, so desirous was he of keeping her for
his own comfort, was selected, and she was ordered to marry him. The
scenes of violence to which she was now exposed, the bitter taunts of
the odious Mrs. Bainbridge, and the reckless fury of Sir Peter, were the
more frightful and overwhelming from their novelty. To all she could
only oppose a silent, tearful, but immutable steadiness of purpose: no
threats, no rage could extort from her more than a touching prayer that
they would not hate her, because she could not obey.

“There must be something we don’t see under all this,” said Mrs.
Bainbridge; “take my word for it, brother, she corresponds secretly with
Henry. Let us take her down to your seat in Wales, where she will have
no pensioned beggars to assist her; and we shall see if her spirit be
not bent to our purpose.”

Sir Peter consented, and they all three took up their abode in the
solitary and dreary-looking house before alluded to as belonging to the
family. Here poor Rosina’s sufferings grew intolerable. Before,
surrounded by well-known scenes, and in perpetual intercourse with kind
and familiar faces, she had not despaired in the end of conquering by
her patience the cruelty of her persecutors;—nor had she written to
Henry, for his name had not been mentioned by his relatives, nor their
attachment alluded to, and she felt an instinctive wish to escape the
dangers about her without his being annoyed, or the sacred secret of her
love being laid bare, and wronged by the vulgar abuse of his aunt or the
bitter curses of his father. But when she was taken to Wales, and made a
prisoner in her apartment, when the flinty mountains about her seemed
feebly to imitate the stony hearts she had to deal with, her courage
began to fail. The only attendant permitted to approach her was Mrs.
Bainbridge’s maid; and under the tutelage of her fiend-like mistress,
this woman was used as a decoy to entice the poor prisoner into
confidence, and then to be betrayed. The simple, kind-hearted Rosina was
a facile dupe, and at last, in the excess of her despair, wrote to
Henry, and gave the letter to this woman to be forwarded. The letter in
itself would have softened marble; it did not speak of their mutual
vows, it but asked him to intercede with his father, that he would
restore her to the place she had formerly held in his affections, and
cease from a cruelty that would destroy her. “For I may die,” wrote the
hapless girl, “but marry another—never!” That single word, indeed, had
sufficed to betray her secret, had it not been already discovered; as it
was, it gave increased fury to Sir Peter, as his sister triumphantly
pointed it out to him, for it need hardly be said that while the ink of
the address was yet wet, and the seal still warm, Rosina’s letter was
carried to this lady. The culprit was summoned before them. What ensued
none could tell; for their own sakes the cruel pair tried to palliate
their part. Voices were high, and the soft murmur of Rosina’s tone was
lost in the howling of Sir Peter and the snarling of his sister. “Out of
doors you shall go,” roared the old man; “under my roof you shall not
spend another night.” And the words infamous seductress, and worse, such
as had never met the poor girl’s ear before, were caught by listening
servants; and to each angry speech of the baronet, Mrs. Bainbridge added
an envenomed point worse than all.

More dead then alive, Rosina was at last dismissed. Whether guided by
despair, whether she took Sir Peter’s threats literally, or whether his
sister’s orders were more decisive, none knew, but Rosina left the
house; a servant saw her cross the park, weeping, and wringing her hands
as she went. What became of her none could tell; her disappearance was
not disclosed to Sir Peter till the following day, and then he showed by
his anxiety to trace her steps and to find her, that his words had been
but idle threats. The truth was, that though Sir Peter went to frightful
lengths to prevent the marriage of the heir of his house with the
portionless orphan, the object of his charity, yet in his heart he loved
Rosina, and half his violence to her rose from anger at himself for
treating her so ill. Now remorse began to sting him, as messenger after
messenger came back without tidings of his victim. He dared not confess
his worst fears to himself; and when his inhuman sister, trying to
harden her conscience by angry words, cried, “The vile hussy has too
surely made away with herself out of revenge to us,” an oath the most
tremendous, and a look sufficient to make even her tremble, commanded
her silence. Her conjecture, however, appeared too true: a dark and
rushing stream that flowed at the extremity of the park had doubtless
received the lovely form, and quenched the life of this unfortunate
girl. Sir Peter, when his endeavours to find her proved fruitless,
returned to town, haunted by the image of his victim, and forced to
acknowledge in his own heart that he would willingly lay down his life,
could he see her again, even though it were as the bride of his son—his
son, before whose questioning he quailed like the veriest coward; for
when Henry was told of the death of Rosina, he suddenly returned from
abroad to ask the cause—to visit her grave, and mourn her loss in the
groves and valleys which had been the scenes of their mutual happiness.
He made a thousand inquiries, and an ominous silence alone replied.
Growing more earnest and more anxious, at length he drew from servants
and dependents, and his odious aunt herself, the whole dreadful truth.
From that moment despair struck his heart, and misery named him her own.
He fled from his father’s presence; and the recollection that one whom
he ought to revere was guilty of so dark a crime, haunted him, as of old
the Eumenides tormented the souls of men given up to their torturings.
His first, his only wish, was to visit Wales, and to learn if any new
discovery had been made, and whether it were possible to recover the
mortal remains of the lost Rosina, so to satisfy the unquiet longings of
his miserable heart. On this expedition was he bound when he made his
appearance at the village before named; and now, in the deserted tower,
his thoughts were busy with images of despair and death, and what his
beloved one had suffered before her gentle nature had been goaded to
such a deed of woe.

While immersed in gloomy reverie, to which the monotonous roaring of the
sea made fit accompaniment, hours flew on, and Vernon was at last aware
that the light of morning was creeping from out its eastern retreat, and
dawning over the wild ocean, which still broke in furious tumult on the
rocky beach. His companions now roused themselves, and prepared to
depart. The food they had brought with them was damaged by sea-water,
and their hunger, after hard labour and many hours’ fasting, had become
ravenous. It was impossible to put to sea in their shattered boat; but
there stood a fisher’s cot about two miles off, in a recess in the bay,
of which the promontory on which the tower stood formed one side; and to
this they hastened to repair. They did not spend a second thought on the
light which had saved them, nor its cause, but left the ruin in search
of a more hospitable asylum. Vernon cast his eyes round as he quitted
it, but no vestige of an inhabitant met his eye, and he began to
persuade himself that the beacon had been a creation of fancy merely.
Arriving at the cottage in question, which was inhabited by a fisherman
and his family, they made a homely breakfast, and then prepared to
return to the tower, to refit their boat, and, if possible, bring her
round. Vernon accompanied them, together with their host and his son.
Several questions were asked concerning the Invisible Girl and her
light, each agreeing that the apparition was novel, and not one being
able to give even an explanation of how the name had become affixed to
the unknown cause of this singular appearance; though both of the men of
the cottage affirmed that once or twice they had seen a female figure in
the adjacent wood, and that now and then a stranger girl made her
appearance at another cot a mile off, on the other side of the
promontory, and bought bread; they suspected both these to be the same,
but could not tell. The inhabitants of the cot, indeed, appeared too
stupid even to feel curiosity, and had never made any attempt at
discovery. The whole day was spent by the sailors in repairing the boat;
and the sound of hammers, and the voices of the men at work, resounded
along the coast, mingled with the dashing of the waves. This was no time
to explore the ruin for one who, whether human or supernatural, so
evidently withdrew herself from intercourse with every living being.
Vernon, however, went over the tower, and searched every nook in vain.
The dingy bare walls bore no token of serving as a shelter; and even a
little recess in the wall of the staircase, which he had not before
observed, was equally empty and desolate. Quitting the tower, he
wandered in the pine wood that surrounded it, and, giving up all thought
of solving the mystery, was soon engrossed by thoughts that touched his
heart more nearly, when suddenly there appeared on the ground at his
feet the vision of a slipper. Since Cinderella so tiny a slipper had
never been seen; as plain as shoe could speak, it told a tale of
elegance, loveliness, and youth. Vernon picked it up. He had often
admired Rosina’s singularly small foot, and his first thought was a
question whether this little slipper would have fitted it. It was very
strange!—it must belong to the Invisible Girl. Then there was a fairy
form that kindled that light—a form of such material substance that its
foot needed to be shod; and yet how shod?—with kid so fine, and of shape
so exquisite, that it exactly resembled such as Rosina wore! Again the
recurrence of the image of the beloved dead came forcibly across him;
and a thousand home-felt associations, childish yet sweet, and
lover-like though trifling, so filled Vernon’s heart, that he threw
himself his length on the ground, and wept more bitterly than ever the
miserable fate of the sweet orphan.

In the evening the men quitted their work, and Vernon returned with them
to the cot where they were to sleep, intending to pursue their voyage,
weather permitting, the following morning. Vernon said nothing of his
slipper, but returned with his rough associates. Often he looked back;
but the tower rose darkly over the dim waves, and no light appeared.
Preparations had been made in the cot for their accommodation, and the
only bed in it was offered Vernon; but he refused to deprive his
hostess, and, spreading his cloak on a heap of dry leaves, endeavoured
to give himself up to repose. He slept for some hours; and when he
awoke, all was still, save that the hard breathing of the sleepers in
the same room with him interrupted the silence. He rose, and, going to
the window, looked out over the now placid sea towards the mystic tower.
The light was burning there, sending its slender rays across the waves.
Congratulating himself on a circumstance he had not anticipated, Vernon
softly left the cottage, and, wrapping his cloak round him, walked with
a swift pace round the bay towards the tower. He reached it; still the
light was burning. To enter and restore the maiden her shoe, would be
but an act of courtesy; and Vernon intended to do this with such caution
as to come unaware, before its wearer could, with her accustomed arts,
withdraw herself from his eyes; but, unluckily, while yet making his way
up the narrow pathway, his foot dislodged a loose fragment, that fell
with crash and sound down the precipice. He sprung forward, on this, to
retrieve by speed the advantage he had lost by this unlucky accident. He
reached the door; he entered: all was silent, but also all was dark. He
paused in the room below; he felt sure that a slight sound met his ear.
He ascended the steps, and entered the upper chamber; but blank
obscurity met his penetrating gaze, the starless night admitted not even
a twilight glimmer through the only aperture. He closed his eyes, to
try, on opening them again, to be able to catch some faint, wandering
ray on the visual nerve; but it was in vain. He groped round the room;
he stood still, and held his breath; and then, listening intently, he
felt sure that another occupied the chamber with him, and that its
atmosphere was slightly agitated by another’s respiration. He remembered
the recess in the staircase; but before he approached it he spoke;—he
hesitated a moment what to say. “I must believe,” he said, “that
misfortune alone can cause your seclusion; and if the assistance of a
man—of a gentleman”—

An exclamation interrupted him; a voice from the grave spoke his
name—the accents of Rosina syllabled, “Henry!—is it indeed Henry whom I

He rushed forward, directed by the sound, and clasped in his arms the
living form of his own lamented girl—his own Invisible Girl he called
her; for even yet, as he felt her heart beat near his, and as he
entwined her waist with his arm, supporting her as she almost sank to
the ground with agitation, he could not see her; and, as her sobs
prevented her speech, no sense but the instinctive one that filled his
heart with tumultuous gladness, told him that the slender, wasted form
he pressed so fondly was the living shadow of the Hebe beauty he had

The morning saw this pair thus strangely restored to each other on the
tranquil sea, sailing with a fair wind for L——, whence they were to
proceed to Sir Peter’s seat, which, three months before, Rosina had
quitted in such agony and terror. The morning light dispelled the
shadows that had veiled her, and disclosed the fair person of the
Invisible Girl. Altered indeed she was by suffering and woe, but still
the same sweet smile played on her lips, and the tender light of her
soft blue eyes were all her own. Vernon drew out the slipper, and showed
the cause that had occasioned him to resolve to discover the guardian of
the mystic beacon; even now he dared not inquire how she had existed in
that desolate spot, or wherefore she had so sedulously avoided
observation, when the right thing to have been done was to have sought
him immediately, under whose care, protected by whose love, no danger
need be feared. But Rosina shrunk from him as he spoke, and a deathlike
pallor came over her cheek, as she faintly whispered, “Your father’s
curse—your father’s dreadful threats!” It appeared, indeed, that Sir
Peter’s violence, and the cruelty of Mrs. Bainbridge, had succeeded in
impressing Rosina with wild and unvanquishable terror. She had fled from
their house without plan or forethought—driven by frantic horror and
overwhelming fear, she had left it with scarcely any money, and there
seemed to her no possibility of either returning or proceeding onward.
She had no friend except Henry in the wide world; whither could she
go?—to have sought Henry would have sealed their fates to misery; for,
with an oath, Sir Peter had declared he would rather see them both in
their coffins than married. After wandering about, hiding by day, and
only venturing forth at night, she had come to this deserted tower,
which seemed a place of refuge. How she had lived since then she could
hardly tell: she had lingered in the woods by day, or slept in the vault
of the tower, an asylum none were acquainted with or had discovered: by
night she burned the pinecones of the wood, and night was her dearest
time; for it seemed to her as if security came with darkness. She was
unaware that Sir Peter had left that part of the country, and was
terrified lest her hiding-place should be revealed to him. Her only hope
was that Henry would return—that Henry would never rest till he had
found her. She confessed that the long interval and the approach of
winter had visited her with dismay; she feared that, as her strength was
failing, and her form wasting to a skeleton, that she might die, and
never see her own Henry more.

An illness, indeed, in spite of all his care, followed her restoration
to security and the comforts of civilised life; many months went by
before the bloom revisiting her cheeks, and her limbs regaining their
roundness, she resembled once more the picture drawn of her in her days
of bliss before any visitation of sorrow. It was a copy of this portrait
that decorated the tower, the scene of her suffering, in which I had
found shelter. Sir Peter, overjoyed to be relieved from the pangs of
remorse, and delighted again to see his orphan ward, whom he really
loved, was now as eager as before he had been averse to bless her union
with his son. Mrs. Bainbridge they never saw again. But each year they
spent a few months in their Welsh mansion, the scene of their early
wedded happiness, and the spot where again poor Rosina had awoke to life
and joy after her cruel persecutions. Henry’s fond care had fitted up
the tower, and decorated it as I saw; and often did he come over, with
his “Invisible Girl,” to renew, in the very scene of its occurrence, the
remembrance of all the incidents which had led to their meeting again,
during the shades of night, in that sequestered ruin.

IT is well known that the hatred borne by one family against another,
and the strife of parties, which often led to bloodshed in the Italian
cities during the Middle Ages, so vividly described by Shakespeare in
“Romeo and Juliet,” was not confined to the Montecchi and Ciapelletti of
Verona, but existed with equal animosity in almost every other town of
that beautiful peninsula. The greatest men among them were the victims;
and crowds of exiles—families who but the day before were in the full
enjoyment of the luxuries of life and the endearing associations of
home—were every now and then seen issuing from the gates of their native
cities, deprived of every possession, and with melancholy and slow steps
dragging their wearied limbs to the nearest asylum offered them, thence
to commence a new career of dependence and poverty, to endure to the end
of their lives, or until some lucky accident should enable them to
change places with their enemies, making those the sufferers who were
late the tyrants. In that country, where each town formed an independent
State, to change one for the other was to depart from the spot cherished
as a country and a home for distant banishment—or worse; for as each
city entertained either hatred or contempt for its neighbour, it often
happened that the mourning exile was obliged to take up his abode among
a people whom he had injured or scoffed. Foreign service offered a
resource to the young and bold among the men. But lovely Italy was to be
left, the ties of young hearts severed, and all the endearing
associations of kin and country broken and scattered for ever. The
Italians were always peculiarly susceptible to these misfortunes. They
loved their native walls, the abodes of their ancestors, the familiar
scenes of youth, with all the passionate fervour characteristic of that

It was therefore no uncommon thing for any one among them, like Foscari
of Venice, to prefer destitution and danger in their own city, to a
precarious subsistence among strangers in distant lands; or, if
compelled to quit the beloved precincts of their native walls, still to
hover near, ready to avail themselves of the first occasion that should
present itself for reversing the decree that condemned them to misery.

For three days and nights there had been warfare in the streets of
Siena,—blood flowed in torrents,—yet the cries and groans of the fallen
but excited their friends to avenge them—not their foes to spare. On the
fourth morning, Ugo Mancini, with a scanty band of followers, was driven
from the town; succours from Florence had arrived for his enemies, and
he was forced to yield. Burning with rage, writhing with an impotent
thirst for vengeance, Ugo went round to the neighbouring villages to
rouse them, not against his native town, but the victorious Tolomei.
Unsuccessful in these endeavours, he next took the more equivocal step
of seeking warlike aid from the Pisans. But Florence kept Pisa in check,
and Ugo found only an inglorious refuge where he had hoped to acquire
active allies. He had been wounded in these struggles; but, animated by
a superhuman spirit, he had forgotten his pain and surmounted his
weakness; nor was it until a cold refusal was returned to his energetic
representations, that he sank beneath his physical sufferings. He was
stretched on a bed of torture when he received intelligence that an
edict of perpetual banishment and confiscation of property was passed
against him. His two children, beggars now, were sent to him. His wife
was dead, and these were all of near relations that he possessed. His
bitter feelings were still too paramount for him to receive comfort from
their presence; yet these agitated and burning emotions appeared in
after-times a remnant of happiness compared to the total loss of every
hope—the wasting inaction of sickness and of poverty.

For five years Ugo Mancini lay stretched on his couch, alternating
between states of intense pain and overpowering weakness; and then he
died. During this interval, the wreck of his fortunes, consisting of the
rent of a small farm, and the use of some money lent, scantily supported
him. His few relatives and followers were obliged to seek their
subsistence elsewhere, and he remained alone to his pain, and to his two
children, who yet clung to the paternal side.

Hatred to his foes, and love for his native town, were the sentiments
that possessed his soul, and which he imparted in their full force to
the plastic mind of his son, which received like molten metal the stamp
he desired to impress. Lorenzo was scarcely twelve years old at the
period of his father’s exile, and he naturally turned with fondness
towards the spot where he had enjoyed every happiness, where each hour
had been spent in light-hearted hilarity, and the kindness and
observance of many attended on his steps. Now, how sad the contrast!—dim
penury—a solitude cheered by no encouraging smiles or sunny
flatteries—perpetual attendance on his father, and untimely cares, cast
their dark shadows over his altered lot.

Lorenzo was a few years older than his sister. Friendless and destitute
as was the exile’s family, it was he who overlooked its moderate
disbursements, who was at once his father’s nurse and his sister’s
guardian, and acted as the head of the family during the incapacity of
his parent. But instead of being narrowed or broken in spirit by these
burdens, his ardent soul rose to meet them, and grew enlarged and lofty
from the very calls made upon it. His look was serious, not careworn;
his manner calm, not humble; his voice had all the tenderness of a
woman—his eye all the pride and fire of a hero.

Still his unhappy father wasted away, and Lorenzo’s hours were entirely
spent beside his bed. He was indefatigable in his attentions—weariness
never seemed to overcome him. His limbs were always alert—his speech
inspiriting and kind. His only pastime was during any interval in his
parent’s sufferings, to listen to his eulogiums on his native town, and
to the history of the wrongs which, from time immemorial, the Mancini
had endured from the Tolomei. Lorenzo, though replete with noble
qualities, was still an Italian; and fervent love for his birthplace,
and violent hatred towards the foes of his house, were the darling
passions of his heart. Nursed in loneliness, they acquired vigour; and
the nights he spent in watching his father were varied by musing on the
career he should hereafter follow—his return to his beloved Siena, and
the vengeance he would take on his enemies.

Ugo often said, I die because I am an exile:—at length these words were
fulfilled, and the unhappy man sank beneath the ills of fortune. Lorenzo
saw his beloved father expire—his father, whom he loved. He seemed to
deposit in his obscure grave all that best deserved reverence and honour
in the world; and turning away his steps, he lamented the loss of the
sad occupation of so many years, and regretted the exchange he made from
his father’s sick bed to a lonely and unprized freedom.

The first use he made of the liberty he had thus acquired was to return
to Siena with his sister. He entered his native town as if it were a
paradise, and he found it a desert in all save the hues of beauty and
delight with which his imagination loved to invest it. There was no one
to whom he could draw near in friendship within the whole circuit of its
walls. According to the barbarous usage of the times, his father’s
palace had been razed, and the mournful ruins stood as a tomb to
commemorate the fall of his fortunes. Not as such did Lorenzo view them;
he often stole out at nightfall, when the stars alone beheld his
enthusiasm, and, clambering to the highest part of the massy fragments,
spent long hours in mentally rebuilding the desolate walls, and in
consecrating once again the weed-grown hearth to family love and
hospitable festivity. It seemed to him that the air was more balmy and
light, breathed amidst these memorials of the past; and his heart warmed
with rapture over the tale they told of what his progenitors had
been—what he again would be.

Yet, had he viewed his position sanely, he would have found it full of
mortification and pain; and he would have become aware that his native
town was perhaps the only place in the world where his ambition would
fail in the attainment of its aim. The Tolomei reigned over it. They had
led its citizens to conquest, and enriched them with spoils. They were
adored; and to flatter them, the populace were prone to revile and scoff
at the name of Mancini. Lorenzo did not possess one friend within its
walls: he heard the murmur of hatred as he passed along, and beheld his
enemies raised to the pinnacle of power and honour; and yet, so
strangely framed is the human heart, that he continued to love Siena,
and would not have exchanged his obscure and penurious abode within its
walls to become the favoured follower of the German Emperor. Such a
place, through education and the natural prejudices of man, did Siena
hold in his imagination, that a lowly condition there seemed a nobler
destiny than to be great in any other spot.

To win back the friendship of its citizens and humble his enemies was
the dream that shed so sweet an influence over his darkened hours. He
dedicated his whole being to this work, and he did not doubt but that he
should succeed. The house of Tolomei had for its chief a youth but a
year or two older than himself—with him, when an opportunity should
present itself, he would enter the lists. It seemed the bounty of
Providence that gave him one so nearly equal with whom to contend; and
during the interval that must elapse before they could clash, he was
busy in educating himself for the struggle. Count Fabian dei Tolomei
bore the reputation of being a youth full of promise and talent; and
Lorenzo was glad to anticipate a worthy antagonist. He occupied himself
in the practice of arms, and applied with perseverance to the study of
the few books that fell in his way. He appeared in the market-place on
public occasions modestly attired; yet his height, his dignified
carriage, and the thoughtful cast of his noble countenance, drew the
observation of the bystanders;—though, such was the prejudice against
his name, and the flattery of the triumphant party, that taunts and
maledictions followed him. His nobility of appearance was called pride;
his affability, meanness; his aspiring views, faction;—and it was
declared that it would be a happy day when he should no longer blot
their sunshine with his shadow. Lorenzo smiled,—he disdained to resent,
or even to feel, the mistaken insults of the crowd, who, if fortune
changed, would the next day throw up their caps for him. It was only
when loftier foes approached that his brow grew dark, that he drew
himself up to his full height, repaying their scorn with glances of
defiance and hate.

But although he was ready in his own person to encounter the contumely
of his townsmen, and walked on with placid mien, regardless of their
sneers, he carefully guarded his sister from such scenes. She was led by
him each morning, closely veiled, to hear mass in an obscure church. And
when, on feast-days, the public walks were crowded with cavaliers and
dames in splendid attire, and with citizens and peasants in their
holiday garb, this gentle pair might be seen in some solitary and shady
spot, Flora knew none to love except her brother—she had grown under his
eyes from infancy; and while he attended on the sick-bed of their
father, he was father, brother, tutor, guardian to her—the fondest
mother could not have been more indulgent; and yet there was mingled a
something beyond, pertaining to their difference of sex. Uniformly
observant and kind, he treated her as if she had been a high-born
damsel, nurtured in her gayest bower.

Her attire was simple—but thus, she was instructed, it befitted every
damsel to dress; her needle-works were such as a princess might have
emulated; and while she learnt under her brother’s tutelage to be
reserved, studious of obscurity, and always occupied, she was taught
that such were the virtues becoming her sex, and no idea of dependence
or penury was raised in her mind. Had he been the sole human being that
approached her, she might have believed herself to be on a level with
the highest in the land; but coming in contact with dependants in the
humble class of life, Flora became acquainted with her true position;
and learnt, at the same time, to understand and appreciate the
unequalled kindness and virtues of her brother.

Two years passed while brother and sister continued, in obscurity and
poverty, cherishing hope, honour, and mutual love. If an anxious thought
ever crossed Lorenzo, it was for the future destiny of Flora, whose
beauty as a child gave promise of perfect loveliness hereafter. For her
sake he was anxious to begin the career he had marked out for himself,
and resolved no longer to delay his endeavours to revive his party in
Siena, and to seek rather than avoid a contest with the young Count
Fabian, on whose overthrow he would rise—Count Fabian, the darling of
the citizens, vaunted as a model for a youthful cavalier, abounding in
good qualities, and so adorned by gallantry, subtle wit, and gay,
winning manners, that he stepped by right of nature, as well as birth,
on the pedestal which exalted him the idol of all around.

It was on a day of public feasting that Lorenzo first presented himself
in rivalship with Fabian. His person was unknown to the count, who, in
all the pride of rich dress and splendid accoutrements, looked with a
smile of patronage on the poorly-mounted and plainly-attired youth, who
presented himself to run a tilt with him. But before the challenge was
accepted, the name of his antagonist was whispered to Fabian; then, all
the bitterness engendered by family feuds; all the spirit of vengeance,
which had been taught as a religion, arose at once in the young noble’s
heart; he wheeled round his steed, and, riding rudely up to his
competitor, ordered him instantly to retire from the course, nor dare to
disturb the revels of the citizens by the hated presence of a Mancini.
Lorenzo answered with equal scorn; and Fabian, governed by
uncontrollable passion, called together his followers to drive the youth
with ignominy from the lists. A fearful array was mustered against the
hateful intruder; but had their number been trebled, the towering spirit
of Lorenzo had met them all. One fell—another was disabled by his weapon
before he was disarmed and made prisoner; but his bravery did not avail
to extract admiration from his prejudiced foes: they rather poured
execrations on him for its disastrous effects, as they hurried him to a
dungeon, and called loudly for his punishment and death.

Far from this scene of turmoil and bloodshed, in her poor but quiet
chamber, in a remote and obscure part of the town, sat Flora, occupied
by her embroidery, musing, as she worked, on her brother’s project, and
anticipating his success. Hours passed, and Lorenzo did not return; the
day declined, and still he tarried. Flora’s busy fancy forged a thousand
causes for the delay. Her brother’s prowess had awaked the chilly zeal
of the partisans of their family;—he was doubtless feasting among them,
and the first stone was laid for the rebuilding of their house. At last,
a rush of steps upon the staircase, and a confused clamour of female
voices calling loudly for admittance, made her rise and open the
door;—in rushed several women—dismay was painted on their faces—their
words flowed in torrents—their eager gestures helped them to a meaning,
and, though not without difficulty, amidst the confusion, Flora heard of
the disaster and imprisonment of her brother—of the blood shed by his
hand, and the fatal issue that such a deed ensured. She grew pale as
marble. Her young heart was filled with speechless terror; she could
form no image of the thing she dreaded, but its indistinct idea was full
of fear. Lorenzo was in prison—Count Fabian had placed him there—he was
to die! Overwhelmed for a moment by such tidings, yet she rose above
their benumbing power, and without proffering a word, or listening to
the questions and remonstrances of the women, she rushed past them, down
the high staircase, into the street; and then with swift pace to where
the public prison was situated. She knew the spot she wished to reach,
but she had so seldom quitted her home that she soon got entangled among
the streets, and proceeded onwards at random. Breathless, at length, she
paused before the lofty portal of a large palace—no one was near—the
fast fading twilight of an Italian evening had deepened into absolute
darkness. At this moment the glare of flambeaux was thrown upon the
street, and a party of horsemen rode up; they were talking and laughing
gaily. She heard one addressed as Count Fabian: she involuntarily drew
back with instinctive hate; and then rushed forward and threw herself at
his horse’s feet, exclaiming, “Save my brother!” The young cavalier
reined up shortly his prancing steed, angrily reproving her for her
heedlessness, and, without deigning another word, entered the courtyard.
He had not, perhaps, heard her prayer;—he could not see the suppliant,
he spoke but in the impatience of the moment;—but the poor child, deeply
wounded by what had the appearance of a personal insult, turned proudly
from the door, repressing the bitter tears that filled her eyes. Still
she walked on; but night took from her every chance of finding her way
to the prison, and she resolved to return home, to engage one of the
women of the house, of which she occupied a part, to accompany her. But
even to find her way back became matter of difficulty; and she wandered
on, discovering no clue to guide her, and far too timid to address any
one she might chance to meet. Fatigue and personal fear were added to
her other griefs, and tears streamed plentifully down her cheeks as she
continued her hopeless journey! At length, at the corner of a street,
she recognised an image of the Madonna in a niche, with a lamp burning
over it, familiar to her recollection as being near her home. With
characteristic piety she knelt before it in thankfulness, and was
offering a prayer for Lorenzo, when the sound of steps made her start
up, and her brother’s voice hailed, and her brother’s arms encircled
her; it seemed a miracle, but he was there, and all her fears were

Lorenzo anxiously asked whither she had been straying; her explanation
was soon given; and he in return related the misfortunes of the
morning—the fate that impended over him, averted by the generous
intercession of young Fabian himself; and yet—he hesitated to unfold the
bitter truth—he was not freely pardoned—he stood there a banished man,
condemned to die if the morrow’s sun found him within the walls of

They had arrived, meanwhile, at their home; and with feminine care Flora
placed a simple repast before her brother, and then employed herself
busily in making various packages. Lorenzo paced the room, absorbed in
thought; at length he stopped, and, kissing the fair girl, said,—

“Where can I place thee in safety? how preserve thee, my flower of
beauty, while we are divided?”

Flora looked up fearfully. “Do I not go with you?” she asked; “I was
making preparations for our journey.”

“Impossible, dearest; I go to privation and hardship.”

“And I would share them with thee.”

“It may not be, sweet sister,” replied Lorenzo, “fate divides us, and we
must submit. I go to camps—to the society of rude men; to struggle with
such fortune as cannot harm me, but which for thee would be fraught with
peril and despair. No, my Flora, I must provide safe and honourable
guardianship for thee, even in this town.” And again Lorenzo meditated
deeply on the part he should take, till suddenly a thought flashed on
his mind. “It is hazardous,” he murmured, “and yet I do him wrong to
call it so. Were our fates reversed, should I not think myself highly
honoured by such a trust?” And then he told his sister to don hastily
her best attire; to wrap her veil round her, and to come with him. She
obeyed—for obedience to her brother was the first and dearest of her
duties. But she wept bitterly while her trembling fingers braided her
long hair, and she hastily changed her dress.

At length they walked forth again, and proceeded slowly, as Lorenzo
employed the precious minutes in consoling and counselling his sister.
He promised as speedy a return as he could accomplish; but if he failed
to appear as soon as he could wish, yet he vowed solemnly that, if alive
and free, she should see him within five years from the moment of
parting. Should he not come before, he besought her earnestly to take
patience, and to hope for the best till the expiration of that period;
and made her promise not to bind herself by any vestal or matrimonial
vow in the interim. They had arrived at their destination, and entered
the courtyard of a spacious palace. They met no servants; so crossed the
court, and ascended the ample stairs. Flora had endeavoured to listen to
her brother. He had bade her be of good cheer, and he was about to leave
her; he told her to hope; and he spoke of an absence to endure five
years—an endless term to her youthful anticipations. She promised
obedience, but her voice was choked by sobs, and her tottering limbs
would not have supported her without his aid. She now perceived that
they were entering the lighted and inhabited rooms of a noble dwelling,
and tried to restrain her tears, as she drew her veil closely around
her. They passed from room to room, in which preparations for festivity
were making; the servants ushered them on, as if they had been invited
guests, and conducted them into a hall filled with all the nobility and
beauty of Siena. Each eye turned with curiosity and wonder on the pair.
Lorenzo’s tall person, and the lofty expression of his handsome
countenance, put the ladies in good-humour with him, while the cavaliers
tried to peep under Flora’s veil.

“It is a mere child,” they said, “and a sorrowing one—what can this

The youthful master of the house, however, instantly recognised his
uninvited and unexpected guest; but before he could ask the meaning of
his coming, Lorenzo had advanced with his sister to the spot where he
stood, and addressed him.

“I never thought, Count Fabian, to stand beneath your roof, and much
less to approach you as a suitor. But that Supreme Power, to whose
decrees we must all bend, has reduced me to such adversity as, if it be
His will, may also visit you, notwithstanding the many friends that now
surround you, and the sunshine of prosperity in which you bask. I stand
here a banished man and a beggar. Nor do I repine at this my fate. Most
willing am I that my right arm alone should create my fortunes; and,
with the blessing of God, I hope so to direct my course, that we may yet
meet upon more equal terms. In this hope I turn my steps, not
unwillingly, from this city; dear as its name is to my heart—and dear
the associations which link its proud towers with the memory of my
forefathers. I leave it a soldier of fortune; how I may return is
written in the page where your unread destiny is traced as well as mine.
But my care ends not with myself. My dying father bequeathed to me this
child, my orphan sister, whom I have, until now, watched over with a
parent’s love. I should ill perform the part intrusted to me, were I to
drag this tender blossom from its native bower into the rude highways of
life. Lord Fabian, I can count no man my friend; for it would seem that
your smiles have won the hearts of my fellow-citizens from me; and death
and exile have so dealt with my house, that not one of my name exists
within the walls of Siena. To you alone can I intrust this precious
charge. Will you accept it until called upon to render it back to me,
her brother, or to the juster hands of our Creator, pure and untarnished
as I now deliver her to you? I ask you to protect her helplessness, to
guard her honour; will you—dare you accept a treasure, with the
assurance of restoring it unsoiled, unhurt?”

The deep expressive voice of the noble youth and his earnest eloquence
enchained the ears of the whole assembly; and when he ceased, Fabian,
proud of the appeal, and nothing loath in the buoyant spirit of youth to
undertake a charge which, thus proffered before his assembled kinsmen
and friends, became an honour, answered readily, “I agree, and solemnly
before Heaven accept your offer. I declare myself the guardian and
protector of your sister; she shall dwell in safety beneath my kind
mother’s care, and if the saints permit your return, she shall be
delivered back to you as spotless as she now is.”

Lorenzo bowed his head; something choked his utterance as he thought
that he was about to part for ever from Flora; but he disdained to
betray this weakness before his enemies. He took his sister’s hand and
gazed upon her slight form with a look of earnest fondness, then
murmuring a blessing over her, and kissing her brow, he again saluted
Count Fabian, and turning away with measured steps and lofty mien, left
the hall. Flora, scarcely understanding what had passed, stood trembling
and weeping under her veil. She yielded her passive hand to Fabian, who,
leading her to his mother, said: “Madam, I ask of your goodness, and the
maternal indulgence you have ever shown, to assist me in fulfilling my
promise, by taking under your gracious charge this young orphan.”

“You command here, my son,” said the countess, “and your will shall be
obeyed.” Then making a sign to one of her attendants, Flora was
conducted from the hall, to where, in solitude and silence, she wept
over her brother’s departure, and her own strange position.

Flora thus became an inmate of the dwelling of her ancestral foes, and
the ward of the most bitter enemy of her house. Lorenzo was gone she
knew not whither, and her only pleasure consisted in reflecting that she
was obeying his behests. Her life was uniform and tranquil. Her
occupation was working tapestry, in which she displayed taste and skill.
Sometimes she had the more mortifying task imposed on her of waiting on
the Countess de’ Tolomei, who having lost two brothers in the last
contest with the Mancini, nourished a deep hatred towards the whole
race, and never smiled on the luckless orphan. Flora submitted to every
command imposed upon her. She was buoyed up by the reflection that her
sufferings wore imposed on her by Lorenzo; schooling herself in any
moment of impatience by the idea that thus she shared his adversity. No
murmur escaped her, though the pride and independence of her nature were
often cruelly offended by the taunts and supercilious airs of her
patroness or mistress, who was not a bad woman, but who thought it
virtue to ill-treat a Mancini. Often, indeed, she neither heard nor
heeded these things. Her thoughts were far away, and grief for the loss
of her brother’s society weighed too heavily on her to allow her to
spend more than a passing sigh on her personal injuries.

The countess was unkind and disdainful, but it was not thus with Flora’s
companions. They were amiable and affectionate girls, either of the
bourgeois class, or daughters of dependants of the house of Tolomei. The
length of time which had elapsed since the overthrow of the Mancini, had
erased from their young minds the bitter duty of hatred, and it was
impossible for them to live on terms of daily intercourse with the
orphan daughter of this ill-fated race, and not to become strongly
attached to her. She was wholly devoid of selfishness, and content to
perform her daily tasks in inoffensive silence. She had no envy, no wish
to shine, no desire of pleasure. She was nevertheless ever ready to
sympathize with her companions, and glad to have it in her power to
administer to their happiness. To help them in the manufacture of some
piece of finery; to assist them in their work; and, perfectly prudent
and reserved herself, to listen to all their sentimental adventures; to
give her best advice, and to aid them in any difficulty, were the simple
means she used to win their unsophisticated hearts. They called her an
angel; they looked up to her as to a saint, and in their hearts
respected her more than the countess herself.

One only subject ever disturbed Flora’s serene melancholy. The praise
she perpetually heard lavished on Count Fabian, her brother’s too
successful rival and oppressor, was an unendurable addition to her other
griefs. Content with her own obscurity, her ambition, her pride, her
aspiring thoughts were spent upon her brother. She hated Count Fabian as
Lorenzo’s destroyer, and the cause of his unhappy exile. His
accomplishments she despised as painted vanities; his person she
contemned as the opposite of his prototype. His blue eyes, clear and
open as day; his fair complexion and light brown hair; his slight
elegant person; his voice, whose tones in song won each listener’s heart
to tenderness and love; his wit, his perpetual flow of spirits, and
unalterable good-humour, were impertinences and frivolities to her who
cherished with such dear worship the recollection of her serious,
ardent, noble-hearted brother, whose soul was ever set on high thoughts,
and devoted to acts of virtue and self-sacrifice; whose fortitude and
affectionate courtesy seemed to her the crown and glory of manhood; how
different from the trifling flippancy of Fabian! “Name an eagle,” she
would say, “and we raise our eyes to heaven, there to behold a creature
fashioned in Nature’s bounty; but it is a degradation to waste one
thought on the insect of a day.” Some speech similar to this had been
kindly reported to the young count’s lady mother, who idolized her son
as the ornament and delight of his age and country. She severely
reprimanded the incautious Flora, who, for the first time, listened
proudly and unyieldingly. From this period her situation grew more
irksome; all she could do was to endeavour to withdraw herself entirely
from observation, and to brood over the perfections, while she lamented
yet more keenly the absence, of her brother.

Two or three years thus flew away, and Flora grew from a
childish-looking girl of twelve into the bewitching beauty of fifteen.
She unclosed like a flower, whose fairest petals are yet shut, but whose
half-veiled loveliness is yet more attractive. It was at this time that
on occasion of doing honour to a prince of France, who was passing on to
Naples, the Countess Tolomei and her son, with a bevy of friends and
followers, went out to meet and to escort the royal traveller on his
way. Assembled in the hall of the palace, and waiting for the arrival of
some of their number, Count Fabian went round his mother’s circle,
saying agreeable and merry things to all. Wherever his cheerful blue
eyes lighted, there smiles were awakened and each young heart beat with
vanity at his harmless flatteries. After a gallant speech or two, he
espied Flora, retired behind her companions.

“What flower is this,” he said, “playing at hide and seek with her
beauty?” And then, struck by the modest sweetness of her aspect, her
eyes cast down, and a rosy blush mantling over her cheek, he added,
“What fair angel makes one of your company?”

“An angel indeed, my lord,” exclaimed one of the younger girls, who
dearly loved her best friend; “she is Flora Mancini.”

“Mancini!” exclaimed Fabian, while his manner became at once respectful
and kind. “Are you the orphan daughter of Ugo—the sister of Lorenzo,
committed by him to my care?” For since then, through her careful
avoidance, Fabian had never even seen his fair ward. She bowed an assent
to his questions, while her swelling heart denied her speech; and
Fabian, going up to his mother, said, “Madam, I hope for our honour’s
sake that this has not before happened. The adverse fortune of this
young lady may render retirement and obscurity befitting; but it is not
for us to turn into a menial one sprung from the best blood in Italy.
Let me entreat you not to permit this to occur again. How shall I redeem
my pledged honour, or answer to her brother for this unworthy

“Would you have me make a friend and a companion of a Mancini?” asked
the countess, with raised colour.

“I ask you not, mother, to do aught displeasing to you,” replied the
young noble; “but Flora is my ward, not our servant;—permit her to
retire; she will probably prefer the privacy of home, to making one
among the festive crowd of her house’s enemies. If not, let the choice
be hers—Say, gentle one, will you go with us or retire?”

She did not speak, but raising her soft eyes, curtsied to him and to his
mother, and quitted the room; so, tacitly making her selection.

From this time Flora never quitted the more secluded apartments of the
palace, nor again saw Fabian. She was unaware that he had been profuse
in his eulogium on her beauty; but that while frequently expressing his
interest in his ward, he rather avoided the dangerous power of her
loveliness. She led rather a prison life, walking only in the palace
garden when it was else deserted, but otherwise her time was at her own
disposal, and no commands now interfered with her freedom. Her labours
were all spontaneous. The countess seldom even saw her, and she lived
among this lady’s attendants like a free boarder in a convent; who
cannot quit the walls, but who is not subservient to the rules of the
asylum. She was more busy than ever at her tapestry frame, because the
countess prized her work; and thus she could in some degree repay the
protection afforded her. She never mentioned Fabian, and always imposed
silence on her companions when they spoke of him. But she did this in no
disrespectful terms. “He is a generous enemy, I acknowledge,” she would
say, “but still he is my enemy, and while through him my brother is an
exile and a wanderer upon earth, it is painful to me to hear his name.”

After the lapse of many months spent in entire seclusion and
tranquillity, a change occurred in the tenor of her life. The countess
suddenly resolved to pass the Easter festival at Rome. Flora’s
companions were wild with joy at the prospect of the journey, the
novelty, and the entertainment they promised themselves from this visit,
and pitied the dignity of their friend, which prevented her from making
one in their mistress’s train; for it was soon understood that Flora was
to be left behind; and she was informed that the interval of the lady’s
absence was to be passed by her in a villa belonging to the family
situated in a sequestered nook among the neighbouring Apennines.

The countess departed in pomp and pride on her so-called pilgrimage to
the sacred city, and at the same time Flora was conveyed to her rural
retreat. The villa was inhabited only by the peasant and his family, who
cultivated the farm, or podere, attached to it, and the old cassiére or
housekeeper. The cheerfulness and freedom of the country were
delightful, and the entire solitude consonant to the habits of the
meditative girl, accustomed to the confinement of the city, and the
intrusive prattle of her associates. Spring was opening with all the
beauty which that season showers upon favoured Italy. The almond and
peach trees were in blossom; and the vine-dresser sang at his work,
perched with his pruning-knife among the vines. Blossoms and flowers, in
laughing plenty, graced the soil; and the trees, swelling with buds
ready to expand into leaves, seemed to feel the life that animated their
dark old boughs. Flora was enchanted; the country labours interested
her, and the hoarded experience of old Sandra was a treasure-house of
wisdom and amusement. Her attention had hitherto been directed to giving
the most vivid hues and truest imitation to her transcript with her
needle of some picture given her as a model; but here was a novel
occupation. She learned the history of the bees, watched the habits of
the birds, and inquired into the culture of plants. Sandra was delighted
with her new companion; and, though notorious for being cross, yet could
wriggle her antique lips into smiles for Flora.

To repay the kindness of her guardian and his mother, she still devoted
much time to her needle. This occupation but engaged half her attention;
and while she pursued it, she could give herself up to endless reverie
on the subject of Lorenzo’s fortunes. Three years had flown since he had
left her; and, except a little gold cross brought to her by a pilgrim
from Milan, but one month after his departure, she had received no
tidings of him. Whether from Milan he had proceeded to France, Germany,
or the Holy Land, she did not know. By turns her fancy led him to either
of these places, and fashioned the course of events that might have
befallen him. She figured to herself his toilsome journeys—his life in
the camp—his achievements, and the honours showered on him by kings and
nobles; her cheek glowed at the praises he received, and her eye kindled
with delight as it imaged him standing with modest pride and an erect
but gentle mien before them. Then the fair enthusiast paused; it crossed
her recollection like a shadow, that if all had gone prosperously, he
had returned to share his prosperity with her, and her faltering heart
turned to sadder scenes to account for his protracted absence.

Sometimes, while thus employed, she brought her work into the trellised
arbour of the garden, or, when it was too warm for the open air, she had
a favourite shady window, which looked down a deep ravine into a
majestic wood, whence the sound of falling water met her ears. One day,
while she employed her fingers upon the spirited likeness of a hound
which made a part of the hunting-piece she was working for the countess,
a sharp, wailing cry suddenly broke on her ear, followed by trampling of
horses and the hurried steps and loud vociferations of men. They entered
the villa on the opposite side from that which her window commanded;
but, the noise continuing, she rose to ask the reason, when Sandra burst
into the room, crying, “O Madonna! he is dead! he has been thrown from
his horse, and he will never speak more.” Flora for an instant could
only think of her brother. She rushed past the old woman, down into the
great hall, in which, lying on a rude litter of boughs, she beheld the
inanimate body of Count Fabian. He was surrounded by servitors and
peasants, who were all clasping their hands and tearing their hair as,
with frightful shrieks, they pressed round their lord, not one of them
endeavouring to restore him to life. Flora’s first impulse was to
retire; but, casting a second glance on the livid brow of the young
count, she saw his eyelids move, and the blood falling in quick drops
from his hair on the pavement. She exclaimed, “He is not dead—he bleeds!
hasten some of you for a leech!” And meanwhile she hurried to get some
water, sprinkled it on his face, and, dispersing the group that hung
over him and impeded the free air, the soft breeze playing on his
forehead revived him, and he gave manifest tokens of life; so that when
the physician arrived, he found that, though he was seriously and even
dangerously hurt, every hope might be entertained of his recovery.

Flora undertook the office of his nurse, and fulfilled its duties with
unwearied attention. She watched him by night and waited on him by day
with that spirit of Christian humility and benevolence which animates a
Sister of Charity as she tends the sick. For several days Fabian’s soul
seemed on the wing to quit its earthly abode; and the state of weakness
that followed his insensibility was scarcely less alarming. At length,
he recognised and acknowledged the care of Flora, but she alone
possessed any power to calm and guide him during the state of
irritability and fever that then ensued. Nothing except her presence
controlled his impatience; before her he was so lamb-like, that she
could scarcely have credited the accounts that others gave her of his
violence, but that, whenever she returned, after leaving him for any
time, she heard his voice far off in anger, and found him with flushed
cheeks and flashing eyes, all which demonstrations subsided into meek
acquiescence when she drew near.

In a few weeks he was able to quit his room; but any noise or sudden
sound drove him almost insane. So loud is an Italian’s quietest
movements, that Flora was obliged to prevent the approach of any except
herself; and her soft voice and noiseless footfall were the sweetest
medicine she could administer to her patient. It was painful to her to
be in perpetual attendance on Lorenzo’s rival and foe, but she subdued
her heart to her duty, and custom helped to reconcile her. As he grew
better, she could not help remarking the intelligence of his
countenance, and the kindness and cordiality of his manners. There was
an unobtrusive and delicate attention and care in his intercourse with
her that won her to be pleased. When he conversed, his discourse was
full of entertainment and variety. His memory was well-stored with
numerous _fabliaux_, _novelle_, and romances, which he quickly
discovered to be highly interesting to her, and so contrived to have one
always ready from the exhaustless stock he possessed. These romantic
stories reminded her of the imaginary adventures she had invented, in
solitude and silence, for her brother; and each tale of foreign
countries had a peculiar charm, which animated her face as she listened,
so that Fabian could have gone on for ever, only to mark the varying
expression of her countenance as he proceeded. Yet she acknowledged
these attractions in him as a Catholic nun may the specious virtues of a
heretic; and, while he contrived each day to increase the pleasure she
derived from his society, she satisfied her conscience with regard to
her brother by cherishing in secret a little quiet stock of family hate,
and by throwing over her manners, whenever she could recollect so to do,
a cold and ceremonious tone, which she had the pleasure of seeing vexed
him heartily.

Nearly two months had passed, and he was so well recovered that Flora
began to wonder that he did not return to Siena, and of course to fulfil
her duty by wishing that he should; and yet, while his cheek was sunk
through past sickness, and his elastic step grown slow, she, as a nurse
desirous of completing her good work, felt averse to his entering too
soon on the scene of the busy town and its noisy pleasures. At length,
two or three of his friends having come to see him, he agreed to return
with them to the city. A significant glance which they cast on his young
nurse probably determined him. He parted from her with a grave courtesy
and a profusion of thanks, unlike his usual manner, and rode off without
alluding to any probability of their meeting again.

She fancied that she was relieved from a burden when he went, and was
surprised to find the days grow tedious, and mortified to perceive that
her thoughts no longer spent themselves so spontaneously on her brother,
and to feel that the occupation of a few weeks could unhinge her mind
and dissipate her cherished reveries; thus, while she felt the absence
of Fabian, she was annoyed at him the more for having, in addition to
his other misdeeds, invaded the sanctuary of her dearest thoughts. She
was beginning to conquer this listlessness, and to return with renewed
zest to her usual occupations, when, in about a week after his
departure, Fabian suddenly returned. He came upon her as she was
gathering flowers for the shrine of the Madonna; and, on seeing him, she
blushed as rosy red as the roses she held. He looked infinitely worse in
health than when he went. His wan cheeks and sunk eyes excited her
concern; and her earnest and kind questions somewhat revived him. He
kissed her hand, and continued to stand beside her as she finished her
nosegay. Had any one seen the glad, fond look with which he regarded her
as she busied herself among the flowers, even old Sandra might have
prognosticated his entire recovery under her care.

Flora was totally unaware of the feelings that were excited in Fabian’s
heart, and the struggle he made to overcome a passion too sweet and too
seductive, when awakened by so lovely a being, ever to be subdued. He
had been struck with her some time ago, and avoided her. It was through
his suggestion that she passed the period of the countess’s pilgrimage
in this secluded villa. Nor had he thought of visiting her there; but,
riding over one day to inquire concerning a foal rearing for him, his
horse had thrown him, and caused him that injury which had made him so
long the inmate of the same abode. Already prepared to admire her—her
kindness, her gentleness, and her unwearied patience during his illness,
easily conquered a heart most ready and yet most unwilling to yield. He
had returned to Siena resolved to forget her, but he came back assured
that his life and death were in her hands.

At first Count Fabian had forgot that he had any but his own feelings
and prejudices, and those of his mother and kindred, to overcome; but
when the tyranny of love vanquished these, he began to fear a more
insurmountable impediment in Flora. The first whisper of love fell like
mortal sin upon her ear; and disturbed, and even angry, she replied:—

“Methinks you wholly forget who I am, and what you are. I speak not of
ancient feuds, though these were enough to divide us for ever. Know that
I hate you as my brother’s oppressor. Restore Lorenzo to me—recall him
from banishment—erase the memory of all that he has suffered through
you—win his love and approbation;—and when all this is fulfilled, which
never can be, speak a language which now it is as the bitterness of
death for me to hear!”

And saying this, she hastily retired, to conceal the floods of tears
which this, as she termed it, insult had caused to flow; to lament yet
more deeply her brother’s absence and her own dependence.

Fabian was not so easily silenced; and Flora had no wish to renew scenes
and expressions of violence so foreign to her nature. She imposed a rule
on herself, by never swerving from which she hoped to destroy the
ill-omened love of her protector. She secluded herself as much as
possible; and when with him assumed a chilling indifference of manner,
and made apparent in her silence so absolute and cold a rejection of all
his persuasions, that had not love with its unvanquishable hopes reigned
absolutely in young Fabian’s heart, he must have despaired. He ceased to
speak of his affection, so to win back her ancient kindness. This was at
first difficult; for she was timid as a young bird, whose feet have
touched the limed twigs. But naturally credulous, and quite
inexperienced, she soon began to believe that her alarm was exaggerated,
and to resume those habits of intimacy which had heretofore subsisted
between them. By degrees Fabian contrived to insinuate the existence of
his attachment—he could not help it. He asked no return; he would wait
for Lorenzo’s arrival, which he was sure could not be far distant. Her
displeasure could not change, nor silence destroy, a sentiment which
survived in spite of both. Intrenched in her coldness and her
indifference, she hoped to weary him out by her defensive warfare, and
fancied that he would soon cease his pursuit in disgust.

The countess had been long away; she had proceeded to view the feast of
San Gennaro at Naples, and had not received tidings of her son’s
illness. Her return was now expected; and Fabian resolved to return to
Siena in time to receive her. Both he and Flora were therefore surprised
one day, when she suddenly entered the apartment where they both were.
Flora had long peremptorily insisted that he should not intrude while
she was employed on her embroidery frame; but this day he had made so
good a pretext, that for the first time he was admitted, and then
suffered to stay a few minutes—they now neither of them knew how long;
she was busy at her work; and he sitting near, gazing unreproved on her
unconscious face and graceful figure, felt himself happier than he had
ever been before.

The countess was sufficiently surprised, and not a little angry; but
before she could do more than utter one exclamation, Fabian interrupted,
by entreating her not to spoil all. He drew her away; he made his own
explanations, and urged his wishes with resistless persuasion. The
countess had been used to indulge him in every wish; it was impossible
for her to deny any strongly urged request; his pertinacity, his
agitation, his entreaties half won her; and the account of his illness,
and his assurances, seconded by those of all the family, that Flora had
saved his life, completed the conquest, and she became in her turn a
suitor for her son to the orphan daughter of Mancini.

Flora, educated till the age of twelve by one who never consulted his
own pleasures and gratifications, but went right on in the path of duty,
regardless of pain or disappointment, had no idea of doing aught merely
because she or others might wish it. Since that time she had been thrown
on her own resources; and jealously cherishing her individuality, every
feeling of her heart had been strengthened by solitude and by a sense of
mental independence. She was the least likely of any one to go with the
stream, or to yield to the mere influence of circumstances. She felt,
she knew, what it became her to do, and that must be done in spite of
every argument.

The countess’s expostulations and entreaties were of no avail. The
promise she had made to her brother of engaging herself by no vow for
five years must be observed under every event; it was asked from her at
the sad and solemn hour of their parting, and was thus rendered doubly
sacred. So constituted, indeed, were her feelings, that the slightest
wish she ever remembered having been expressed by Lorenzo had more
weight with her than the most urgent prayers of another. He was a part
of her religion; reverence and love for him had been moulded into the
substance of her soul from infancy; their very separation had tended to
render these impressions irradicable. She brooded over them for years;
and when no sympathy or generous kindness was afforded her—when the
countess treated her like an inferior and a dependant, and Fabian had
forgotten her existence, she had lived from month to month, and from
year to year, cherishing the image of her brother, and only able to
tolerate the annoyances that beset her existence, by considering that
her patience, her fortitude, and her obedience were all offerings at the
shrine of her beloved Lorenzo’s desires.

It is true that the generous and kindly disposition of Fabian won her to
regard him with a feeling nearly approaching tenderness, though this
emotion was feeble, the mere ripple of the waves, compared to the mighty
tide of affection that set her will all one way, and made her deem
everything trivial except Lorenzo’s return—Lorenzo’s existence—obedience
to Lorenzo. She listened to her lover’s persuasions so unyieldingly that
the countess was provoked by her inflexibility; but she bore her
reproaches with such mildness, and smiled so sweetly, that Fabian was
the more charmed. She admitted that she owed him a certain submission as
the guardian set over her by her brother; Fabian would have gladly
exchanged this authority for the pleasure of being commanded by her; but
this was an honour he could not attain, so in playful spite he enforced
concessions from her. At his desire she appeared in society, dressed as
became her rank, and filled in his house the station a sister of his own
would have held. She preferred seclusion, but she was averse to
contention, and it was little that she yielded, while the purpose of her
soul was as fixed as ever.

The fifth year of Lorenzo’s exile was now drawing to a close, but he did
not return, nor had any intelligence been received of him. The decree of
his banishment had been repealed, the fortunes of his house restored,
and his palace, under Fabian’s generous care, rebuilt. These were acts
that demanded and excited Flora’s gratitude; yet they were performed in
an unpretending manner, as if the citizens of Siena had suddenly become
just and wise without his interference. But these things dwindled into
trifles while the continuation of Lorenzo’s absence seemed the pledge of
her eternal misery; and the tacit appeal made to her kindness, while she
had no thought but for her brother, drove her to desperation. She could
no longer tolerate the painful anomaly of her situation; she could not
endure her suspense for her brother’s fate, nor the reproachful glances
of Fabian’s mother and his friends. He himself was more generous,—he
read her heart, and, as the termination of the fifth year drew nigh,
ceased to allude to his own feelings, and appeared as wrapt as herself
in doubt concerning the fate of the noble youth, whom they could
scarcely entertain a hope of ever seeing more. This was small comfort to
Flora. She had resolved that when the completion of the fifth year
assured her that her brother was for ever lost, she would never see
Fabian again. At first she had resolved to take refuge in a convent, and
in the sanctity of religious vows. But she remembered how averse Lorenzo
had always shown himself to this vocation, and that he had preferred to
place her beneath the roof of his foe, than within the walls of a
nunnery. Besides, young as she was, and, despite of herself, full of
hope, she recoiled from shutting the gates of life upon herself for
ever. Notwithstanding her fears and sorrow, she clung to the belief that
Lorenzo lived; and this led her to another plan. When she had received
her little cross from Milan, it was accompanied by a message that he
believed he had found a good friend in the archbishop of that place.
This prelate, therefore, would know whither Lorenzo had first bent his
steps, and to him she resolved to apply. Her scheme was easily formed.
She possessed herself of the garb of a pilgrim, and resolved on the day
following the completion of the fifth year to depart from Siena, and
bend her steps towards Lombardy, buoyed up by the hope that she should
gain some tidings of her brother.

Meanwhile Fabian had formed a similar resolve. He had learnt the fact
from Flora, of Lorenzo having first resorted to Milan, and he determined
to visit that city, and not to return without certain information. He
acquainted his mother with his plan, but begged her not to inform Flora,
that she might not be tortured by double doubt during his absence.

The anniversary of the fifth year was come, and with it the eve of these
several and separate journeys. Flora had retired to spend the day at the
villa before mentioned. She had chosen to retire thither for various
reasons. Her escape was more practicable thence than in the town; and
she was anxious to avoid seeing both Fabian and his mother, now that she
was on the point of inflicting severe pain on them. She spent the day at
the villa and in its gardens, musing on her plans, regretting the quiet
of her past life—saddened on Fabian’s account—grieving bitterly for
Lorenzo. She was not alone, for she had been obliged to confide in one
of her former companions, and to obtain her assistance. Poor little
Angeline was dreadfully frightened with the trust reposed in her, but
did not dare expostulate with or betray her friend; and she continued
near her during this last day, by turns trying to console and weeping
with her. Towards evening they wandered together into the wood
contiguous to the villa. Flora had taken her harp with her, but her
trembling fingers refused to strike its chords; she left it, she left
her companion, and strayed on alone to take leave of a spot consecrated
by many a former visit. Here the umbrageous trees gathered about her,
and shaded her with their thick and drooping foliage;—a torrent dashed
down from neighbouring rock, and fell from a height into a rustic basin,
hollowed to receive it; then, overflowing the margin at one spot, it
continued falling over successive declivities, till it reached the
bottom of a little ravine, when it stole on in a placid and silent
course. This had ever been a favourite resort of Flora. The twilight of
the wood and the perpetual flow, the thunder, the hurry, and the turmoil
of the waters, the varied sameness of the eternal elements, accorded
with the melancholy of her ideas, and the endless succession of her
reveries. She came to it now; she gazed on the limpid cascade—for the
last time; a soft sadness glistened in her eyes, and her attitude
denoted the tender regret that filled her bosom; her long bright tresses
streaming in elegant disorder, her light veil and simple, yet rich,
attire, were fitfully mirrored in the smooth face of the rushing waters.
At this moment the sound of steps more firm and manly than those of
Angeline struck her ear, and Fabian himself stood before her; he was
unable to bring himself to depart on his journey without seeing her once
again. He had ridden to the villa, and, finding that she had quitted it,
sought and found her in the lone recess where they had often spent hours
together which had been full of bliss to him. Flora was sorry to see
him, for her secret was on her lips, and yet she resolved not to give it
utterance. He was ruled by the same feeling. Their interview was
therefore short, and neither alluded to what sat nearest the heart of
each. They parted with a simple “Good-night,” as if certain of meeting
the following morning; each deceived the other, and each was in turn
deceived. There was more of tenderness in Flora’s manner than there had
ever been; it cheered his faltering soul, about to quit her, while the
anticipation of the blow he was about to receive from her made her
regard as venial this momentary softening towards her brother’s enemy.

Fabian passed the night at the villa, and early the next morning he
departed for Milan. He was impatient to arrive at the end of his
journey, and often he thrust his spurs into his horse’s sides, and put
him to his speed, which even then appeared slow. Yet he was aware that
his arrival at Milan might advance him not a jot towards the ultimate
object of his journey; and he called Flora cruel and unkind, until the
recollection of her kind farewell consoled and cheered him.

He stopped the first night at Empoli, and, crossing the Arno, began to
ascend the Apennines on the northern side. Soon he penetrated their
fastnesses, and entered deep into the ilex woods. He journeyed on
perseveringly, and yet the obstructions he met with were many, and borne
with impatience. At length, on the afternoon of the third day, he
arrived at a little rustic inn, hid deep in a wood, which showed signs
of seldom being visited by travellers. The burning sun made it a welcome
shelter for Fabian; and he deposited his steed in the stable, which he
found already partly occupied by a handsome black horse, and then
entered the inn to seek refreshment for himself. There seemed some
difficulty in obtaining this. The landlady was the sole domestic, and it
was long before she made her appearance, and then she was full of
trouble and dismay; a sick traveller had arrived—a gentleman to all
appearance dying of a malignant fever. His horse, his well-stored purse,
and rich dress showed that he was a cavalier of consequence;—the more
the pity. There was no help, nor any means of carrying him forward; yet
half his pain seemed to arise from his regret at being detained—he was
so eager to proceed to Siena. The name of his own town excited the
interest of Count Fabian, and he went up to visit the stranger, while
the hostess prepared his repast.

Meanwhile Flora awoke with the lark, and with the assistance of Angeline
attired herself in her pilgrim’s garb. From the stir below, she was
surprised to find that Count Fabian had passed the night at the villa,
and she lingered till he should have departed, as she believed, on his
return to Siena. Then she embraced her young friend, and taking leave of
her with many blessings and thanks, alone, with Heaven, as she trusted,
for her guide, she quitted Fabian’s sheltering roof, and with a heart
that maintained its purpose in spite of her feminine timidity, began her
pilgrimage. Her journey performed on foot was slow, so that there was no
likelihood that she could overtake her lover, already many miles in
advance. Now that she had begun it, her undertaking appeared to her
gigantic, and her heart almost failed her. The burning sun scorched her;
never having before found herself alone in a highway, a thousand fears
assailed her, and she grew so weary, that soon she was unable to support
herself. By the advice of a landlady at an inn where she stopped, she
purchased a mule to help her on her long journey. Yet with this help it
was the third night before she arrived at Empoli, and then crossing the
Arno, as her lover had done before, her difficulties seemed to begin to
unfold themselves, and to grow gigantic, as she entered the dark woods
of the Apennines, and found herself amidst the solitude of its vast
forests. Her pilgrim’s garb inspired some respect, and she rested at
convents by the way. The pious sisters held up their hands in admiration
of her courage; while her heart beat faintly with the knowledge that she
possessed absolutely none. Yet, again and again, she repeated to
herself, that the Apennines once passed, the worst would be over. So she
toiled on, now weary, now frightened—very slowly, and yet very anxious
to get on with speed.

On the evening of the seventh day after quitting her home, she was still
entangled in the mazes of these savage hills. She was to sleep at a
convent on their summit that night, and the next day arrive at Bologna.
This hope had cheered her through the day; but evening approached, the
way grew more intricate, and no convent appeared. The sun had set, and
she listened anxiously for the bell of the Ave Maria, which would give
her hope that the goal she sought was nigh; but all was silent, save the
swinging boughs of the vast trees, and the timid beating of her own
heart; darkness closed around her, and despair came with the increased
obscurity, till a twinkling light, revealing itself among the trees,
afforded her some relief. She followed this beamy guide till it led her
to a little inn, where the sight of a kind-looking woman, and the
assurance of safe shelter, dispelled her terrors, and filled her with
grateful pleasure.

Seeing her so weary, the considerate hostess hastened to place food
before her, and then conducted her to a little low room where her bed
was prepared. “I am sorry, lady,” said the landlady in a whisper, “not
to be able to accommodate you better; but a sick cavalier occupies my
best room—it is next to this—and he sleeps now, and I would not disturb
him. Poor gentleman! I never thought he would rise more; and under
Heaven he owes his life to one who, whether he is related to him or not
I cannot tell, for he did not accompany him. Four days ago he stopped
here, and I told him my sorrow—how I had a dying guest, and he
charitably saw him, and has since then nursed him more like a
twin-brother than a stranger.”

The good woman prattled on. Flora heard but little of what she said; and
overcome by weariness and sleep, paid no attention to her tale. But
having performed her orisons, and placed her head on the pillow, she was
quickly lapped in the balmy slumber she so much needed.

Early in the morning she was awoke by a murmur of voices in the next
room. She started up, and recalling her scattered thoughts, tried to
remember the account the hostess had given her the preceding evening.
The sick man spoke, but his accent was low, and the words did not reach
her;—he was answered—could Flora believe her senses? did she not know
the voice that spoke these words?—“Fear nothing, a sweet sleep has done
you infinite good; and I rejoice in the belief that you will speedily
recover. I have sent to Siena for your sister, and do indeed expect that
Flora will arrive this very day.”

More was said, but Flora heard no more; she had risen, and was hastily
dressing herself; in a few minutes she was by her brother’s, her
Lorenzo’s bedside, kissing his wan hand, and assuring him that she was
indeed Flora.

“These are indeed wonders,” he at last said; “and if you are mine own
Flora you perhaps can tell me who this noble gentleman is, who day and
night has watched beside me, as a mother may by her only child, giving
no time to repose, but exhausting himself for me.”

“How, dearest brother,” said Flora, “can I truly answer your question?
to mention the name of our benefactor were to speak of a mask and a
disguise, not a true thing. He is my protector and guardian, who has
watched over and preserved me while you wandered far; his is the most
generous heart in Italy, offering past enmity and family pride as
sacrifices at the altar of nobleness and truth. He is the restorer of
your fortunes in your native town”—

“And the lover of my sweet sister.—I have heard of these things, and was
on my way to confirm his happiness and to find my own, when sickness
laid me thus low, and would have destroyed us both for ever, but for
Fabian Tolomei”—

“Who how exerts his expiring authority to put an end to this scene,”
interrupted the young count. “Not till this day has Lorenzo been
sufficiently composed to hear any of these explanations, and we risk his
returning health by too long a conversation. The history of these things
and of his long wanderings, now so happily ended, must be reserved for a
future hour; when assembled in our beloved Siena, exiles and foes no
longer, we shall long enjoy the happiness which Providence, after so
many trials, has bounteously reserved for us.”

WHY do I write my melancholy story? Is it as a lesson, to prevent any
other from wishing to rise to rank superior to that in which they are
born? No! miserable as I am, others might have been happy, I doubt not,
in my position: the chalice has been poisoned for me alone! Am I
evil-minded—am I wicked? What have been my errors, that I am now an
outcast and wretched? I will tell my story—let others judge me; my mind
is bewildered, I cannot judge myself.

My father was land steward to a wealthy nobleman. He married young, and
had several children. He then lost his wife, and remained fifteen years
a widower, when he married again a young girl, the daughter of a
clergyman, who died, leaving a numerous offspring in extreme poverty. My
maternal grandfather had been a man of sensibility and genius; my mother
inherited many of his endowments. She was an angel on earth; all her
works were charity, all her thoughts were love.

Within a year after her marriage, she gave birth to twins—I and my
sister; soon after she fell into ill-health, and from that time was
always weakly. She could endure no fatigue, and seldom moved from her
chair. I see her now;—her white, delicate hands employed in needlework,
her soft, love-lighted eyes fixed on me. I was still a child when my
father fell into trouble, and we removed from the part of the country
where we had hitherto lived, and went to a distant village, where we
rented a cottage, with a little land adjoining. We were poor, and all
the family assisted each other. My elder half-sisters were strong,
industrious, rustic young women, and submitted to a life of labour with
great cheerfulness. My father held the plough, my half-brothers worked
in the barns; all was toil, yet all seemed enjoyment.

How happy my childhood was! Hand in hand with my dear twin-sister, I
plucked the spring flowers in the hedges, turned the hay in the summer
meadows, shook the apples from the trees in the autumn, and at all
seasons, gambolled in delicious liberty beneath the free air of heaven;
or at my mother’s feet, caressed by her, I was taught the sweetest
lessons of charity and love. My elder sisters were kind; we were all
linked by strong affection. The delicate, fragile existence of my mother
gave an interest to our monotony, while her virtues and her refinement
threw a grace over our homely household.

I and my sister did not seem twins, we were so unlike. She was robust,
chubby, full of life and spirits; I, tall, slim, fair, and even pale. I
loved to play with her, but soon grew tired, and then I crept to my
mother’s side, and she sang me to sleep, and nursed me in her bosom, and
looked on me with her own angelic smile. She took pains to instruct me,
not in accomplishments, but in all real knowledge. She unfolded to me
the wonders of the visible creation, and to each tale of bird and beast,
of fiery mountain or vast river, was appended some moral, derived from
her warm heart and ardent imagination. Above all, she impressed upon me
the precepts of the gospel, charity to every fellow-creature, the
brotherhood of mankind, the rights that every sentient creature
possesses to our services. I was her almoner; for, poor as she was, she
was the benefactress of those who were poorer. Being delicate, I helped
her in her task of needlework, while my sister aided the rest in their
household or rustic labours.

When I was seventeen, a miserable accident happened. A hayrick caught
fire; it communicated to our outhouses, and at last to the cottage. We
were roused from our beds at midnight, and escaped barely with our
lives. My father bore out my mother in his arms, and then tried to save
a portion of his property. The roof of the cottage fell in on him. He
was dug out after an hour, scorched, maimed, crippled for life.

We were all saved, but by a miracle only was I preserved. I and my
sister were awoke by cries of fire. The cottage was already enveloped in
flames. Susan, with her accustomed intrepidity, rushed through the
flames, and escaped; I thought only of my mother, and hurried to her
room. The fire raged around me; it encircled—hemmed me in. I believed
that I must die, when suddenly I felt myself seized upon and borne away.
I looked on my preserver—it was Lord Reginald Desborough.

For many Sundays past, when, at church, I knew that Lord Reginald’s eyes
were fixed on me. He had met me and Susan in our walks; he had called at
our cottage. There was fascination in his eye, in his soft voice and
earnest gaze, and my heart throbbed with gladness, as I thought that he
surely loved me. To have been saved by him was to make the boon of life
doubly precious.

There is to me much obscurity in this part of my story. Lord Reginald
loved me, it is true; why he loved me, so far as to forget pride of rank
and ambition for my sake, he who afterwards showed no tendency to
disregard the prejudices and habits of rank and wealth, I cannot tell;
it seems strange. He had loved me before, but from the hour that he
saved my life, love grew into an overpowering passion. He offered us a
lodge on his estate to take refuge in; and while there, he sent us
presents of game, and still more kindly, fruits and flowers to my
mother, and came himself, especially, when all were out except my mother
and myself, and sat by us and conversed. Soon I learnt to expect the
soft-asking look of his eyes, and almost dared answer it. My mother once
perceived these glances, and took an opportunity to appeal to Lord
Reginald’s good feelings, not to make me miserable for life, by
implanting an attachment that could only be productive of unhappiness.
His answer was to ask me in marriage.

I need not say that my mother gratefully consented; that my father,
confined to his bed since the fire, thanked God with rapture; that my
sisters were transported by delight: I was the least surprised then,
though the most happy. Now, I wonder much, what could he see in me? So
many girls of rank and fortune were prettier. I was an untaught,
low-born, portionless girl. It was very strange.

Then I only thought of the happiness of marrying him, of being loved, of
passing my life with him. My wedding day was fixed. Lord Reginald had
neither father nor mother to interfere with his arrangements. He told no
relation; he became one of our family during the interval. He saw no
deficiencies in our mode of life—in my dress; he was satisfied with all;
he was tender, assiduous, and kind, even to my elder sisters; he seemed
to adore my mother, and became a brother to my sister Susan. She was in
love, and asked him to intercede to gain her parents’ consent for her
choice. He did so; and though before, Lawrence Cooper, the carpenter of
the place, had been disdained, supported by him, he was accepted.
Lawrence Cooper was young, well-looking, well disposed, and fondly
attached to Susan.

My wedding day came. My mother kissed me fondly, my father blessed me
with pride and joy, my sisters stood round, radiant with delight. There
was but one drawback to the universal happiness—that immediately on my
marriage I was to go abroad.

From the church door I stepped into the carriage. Having once and again
been folded in my dear mother’s embrace, the wheels were in motion, and
we were away. I looked out from the window; there was the dear group: my
old father, white-headed and aged, in his large chair; my mother,
smiling through her tears, with folded hands and upraised looks of
gratitude, anticipating long years of happiness for her child; Susan and
Lawrence standing side by side, unenvious of my greatness, happy in
themselves; my sisters conning over with pride and joy the presents made
to them, and the prosperity that flowed in from my husband’s generosity.
All looked happy, and it seemed as if I were the cause of all this
happiness. We had been indeed saved from dreadful evils; ruin had ensued
from the fire, and we had been sunk in adversity through that very event
from which our good fortune took its rise. I felt proud and glad. I
loved them all. I thought, I make them happy—they are prosperous through
me! And my heart warmed with gratitude towards my husband at the idea.

We spent two years abroad. It was rather lonely for me, who had always
been surrounded, as it were, by a populous world of my own, to find
myself cast upon foreigners and strangers; the habits of the different
sexes in the higher ranks so separate them from each other, that, after
a few months, I spent much of my time in solitude. I did not repine; I
had been brought up to look upon the hard visage of life, if not
unflinchingly, at least with resignation. I did not expect perfect
happiness. Marriages in humble life are attended with so much care. I
had none of this: my husband loved me; and though I often longed to see
the dear familiar faces that thronged my childhood’s home, and, above
all, pined for my mother’s caresses and her wise maternal lessons, yet
for a time I was content to think of them, and hope for a reunion.

Still many things pained me. I had, poor myself, been brought up among
the poor, and nothing, since I can remember forming an idea, so much
astonished and jarred with my feelings as the thought of how the rich
could spend so much on themselves, while any of their fellow-creatures
were in destitution. I had none of the patrician charity (though such is
praiseworthy), which consists in distributing thin soup and coarse
flannel petticoats—a sort of instinct or sentiment of justice, the
offspring of my lowly paternal hearth, and my mother’s enlightened
piety, was deeply implanted in my mind, that all had as good a right to
the comforts of life as myself, or even as my husband. My charities,
they were called—they seemed to me the payment of my debts to my
fellow-creatures—were abundant. Lord Reginald peremptorily checked them;
but as I had a large allowance for my own expenses, I denied myself a
thousand luxuries, for the sake of feeding the hungry. Nor was it only
that charity impelled me, but that I could not acquire a taste for
spending money on myself—I disliked the apparatus of wealth. My husband
called my ideas sordid, and reproved me severely, when, instead of
outshining all competitors at a fête, I appeared dowdily dressed, and
declared warmly that I could not, I would not, spend twenty guineas on a
gown, while I could dress many sad faces in smiles, and bring much joy
to many drooping hearts, by the same sum.

Was I right? I firmly believe that there is not one among the rich who
will not affirm that I did wrong; that to please my husband, and do
honour to his rank, was my first duty. Yet, shall I confess it? even
now, rendered miserable by this fault—I cannot give it that name—I can
call it a misfortune—I have wasted at the slow fire of knowing that I
lost my husband’s affections because I performed what I believed to be a

But I am not come to that yet. It was not till my return to England that
the full disaster crushed me. We had often been applied to for money by
my family, and Lord Reginald had acceded to nearly all their requests.
When we reached London, after two years’ absence, my first wish was to
see my dear mother. She was at Margate for her health. It was agreed
that I should go there alone, and pay a short visit. Before I went, Lord
Reginald told me what I did not know before, that my family had often
made exorbitant demands on him, with which he was resolved not to
comply. He told me that he had no wish to raise my relatives from their
station in society; and that, indeed, there were only two among them
whom he conceived had any claims upon me—my mother and my twin-sister:
that the former was incapable of any improper request and the latter, by
marrying Cooper, had fixed her own position, and could in no way be
raised from the rank of her chosen husband. I agreed to much that he
said. I replied that he well knew that my own taste led me to consider
mediocrity the best and happiest situation; that I had no wish, and
would never consent, to supply any extravagant demands on the part of
persons, however dear to me, whose circumstances he had rendered easy.

Satisfied with my reply, we parted most affectionately, and I went on my
way to Margate with a light and glad heart; and the cordial reception I
received from my whole family collected together to receive me, was
calculated to add to my satisfaction. The only drawback to my content
was my mother’s state; she was wasted to a shadow. They all talked and
laughed around her, but it was evident to me that she had not long to

There was no room for me in the small furnished house in which they were
all crowded, so I remained at the hotel. Early in the morning, before I
was up, my father visited me. He begged me to intercede with my husband;
that on the strength of his support he had embarked in a speculation
which required a large capital; that many families would be ruined, and
himself dishonoured, if a few hundreds were not advanced. I promised to
do what I could, resolving to ask my mother’s advice, and make her my
guide. My father kissed me with an effusion of gratitude, and left me.

I cannot enter into the whole of these sad details; all my half-brothers
and sisters had married, and trusted to their success in life to Lord
Reginald’s assistance. Each evidently thought that they asked little in
not demanding an equal share of my luxuries and fortune; but they were
all in difficulty—all needed large assistance—all depended on me.

Lastly, my own sister Susan appealed to me—but hers was the most
moderate request of all—she only wished for twenty pounds. I gave it her
at once from my own purse.

As soon as I saw my mother I explained to her my difficulties. She told
me that she expected this, and that it broke her heart: I must summon
courage and resist these demands. That my father’s imprudence had ruined
him, and that he must encounter the evil he had brought on himself; that
my numerous relatives were absolutely mad with the notion of what I
ought to do for them. I listened with grief—I saw the torments in store
for me—I felt my own weakness, and knew that I could not meet the
rapacity of those about me with any courage or firmness. That same night
my mother fell into convulsions; her life was saved with difficulty.
From Susan I learned the cause of her attack. She had had a violent
altercation with my father: she insisted that I should not be appealed
to; while he reproached her for rendering me undutiful, and bringing
ruin and disgrace on his grey hairs. When I saw my pale mother
trembling, fainting, dying—when I was again and again assured that she
must be my father’s victim unless I yielded, what wonder that, in the
agony of my distress, I wrote to my husband to implore his assistance.

Oh, what thick clouds now obscured my destiny! how do I remember, with a
sort of thrilling horror, the boundless sea, white cliffs, and wide
sands of Margate! The summer day that had welcomed my arrival changed to
bleak wintry weather during this interval—while I waited with anguish
for my husband’s answer. Well do I remember the evening on which it
came: the waves of the sea showed their white crests, no vessel ventured
to meet the gale with any canvas except a topsail, the sky was bared
clear by the wind, the sun was going down fiery red. I looked upon the
troubled waters—I longed to be borne away upon them, away from care and
misery. At this moment a servant followed me to the sands with my
husband’s answer—it contained a refusal. I dared not communicate it. The
menaces of bankruptcy; the knowledge that he had instilled false hopes
into so many; the fears of disgrace, rendered my father, always rough,
absolutely ferocious. Life flickered in my dear mother’s frame, it
seemed on the point of expiring when she heard my father’s step; if he
came in with a smooth brow, her pale lips wreathed into her own sweet
smile, and a delicate pink tinged her fallen cheeks; if he scowled, and
his voice was high, every limb shivered, she turned her face to her
pillow, while convulsive tears shook her frame, and threatened instant
dissolution. My father sought me alone one day, as I was walking in
melancholy guise upon the sands; he swore that he would not survive his
disgrace. “And do you think, Fanny,” he added “that your mother will
survive the knowledge of my miserable end?” I saw the resolution of
despair in his face as he spoke.—I asked the sum needed, the time when
it must be given.—A thousand pounds in two days was all that was asked.
I set off to London to implore my husband to give this sum.

No! no! I cannot step by step record my wretchedness—the money was
given—I extorted it from Lord Reginald, though I saw his very heart
closed on me as he wrote the cheque. Worse had happened since I had left
him. Susan had used the twenty pounds I gave her to reach town, to throw
herself at my husband’s feet, and implore his compassion. Rendered
absolutely insane by the idea of having a lord for a brother-in-law,
Cooper had launched into a system of extravagance, incredible as it was
wicked. He was many thousand pounds in debt, and when at last Lord
Reginald wrote to refuse all further supply, the miserable man committed
forgery. Two hundred pounds prevented exposure, and preserved him from
an ignominious end. Five hundred more were advanced to send him and his
wife to America, to settle there, out of the way of temptation. I parted
from my dear sister—I loved her fondly; she had no part in her husband’s
guilt, yet she was still attached to him, and her child bound them
together; they went into solitary, miserable exile. “Ah! had we remained
in virtuous poverty,” cried my broken-hearted sister, “I had not been
forced to leave my dying mother.”

The thousand pounds given to my father was but a drop of water in the
ocean. Again I was appealed to; again I felt the slender thread of my
mother’s life depended on my getting a supply. Again, trembling and
miserable, I implored the charity of my husband.

“I am content,” he said, “to do what you ask, to do more than you ask;
but remember the price you pay—either give up your parents and your
family, whose rapacity and crimes deserve no mercy, or we part for ever.
You shall have a proper allowance; you can maintain all your family on
it if you please; but their names must never be mentioned to me again.
Choose between us—you never see them more, or we part for ever.”

Did I do right—I cannot tell—misery is the result—misery frightful,
endless, unredeemed. My mother was dearer to me than all the world. I
did not reply—I rushed to my room, and that night, in a delirium of
grief and horror, I set out for Margate—such was my reply to my husband.

Three years have passed since then; and during all this time I was
grateful to Heaven for being permitted to do my duty by my mother; and
though I wept over the alienation of my husband, I did not repent. But
she, my angelic support, is no more. My father survived my mother but
two months; remorse for all he had done, and made me suffer, cut short
his life. His family by his first wife are gathered round me; they
importune, they rob, they destroy me. Last week I wrote to Lord
Reginald. I communicated the death of my parents; I represented that my
position was altered; and that if he still cared for his unhappy wife
all might be well. Yesterday his answer came.—It was too late, he
said;—I had myself torn asunder the ties that united us—they never could
be knit together again.

By the same post came a letter from Susan. She is happy. Cooper,
awakened to a manly sense of the duties of life, is thoroughly reformed.
He is industrious and prosperous. Susan asks me to join her. I am
resolved to go. Oh! my home, and recollections of my youth, where are ye
now? envenomed by serpents’ stings, I long to dose my eyes on every
scene I have ever viewed. Let me seek a strange land, a land where a
grave will soon be opened for me. I desire to die. I am told that Lord
Reginald loves another, a high-born girl; that he openly curses our
union as the obstacle to his happiness. The memory of this will poison
the oblivion I go to seek. He will soon be free. Soon will the hand he
once so fondly took in his and made his own, which, now flung away,
trembles with misery as it traces these lines, moulder in its last