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scene, which they had just witnessed, produced a most painful impression upon
the minds of the lovely Italian lady and Richard Markham.
For some moments after they were alone in the
drawing-room together, they maintained a profound silence.
At length Richard spoke.
"It is a mournful occurrence which has brought us
together to-day, Isabella," he said.
"And although this meeting between us be unknown to
my father," answered Isabella, "yet the nature of the circumstance
which caused it must serve as my apology in your eyes."
"In my eyes!" ejaculated Markham. "Oh!
how can an apology be necessary for an interview with one who loves you as I
"I am not accustomed to act the prude,
Richard," returned Isabella; "and therefore I will not say that I
regret having met you, — apart from the sad event which led to our
"Oh! Isabella, if I do not now renew to you all my
former protestations of affection, it is because it were impious for me to think
of our love, when death is busy in the same house."
"Richard, I admire your feeling in this respect.
But you are all our poor dying friend proclaimed you — high-minded,
honourable, and generous. O Richard! the prophetic language of Mary-Anne has
produced a powerful impression upon my mind!"
"And on mine, also," answered Markham.
"Not that I esteem the prospective honours displayed to my view; but
because I hope — sincerely hope — that my adored
Isabella may one day be mine."
The Princess tendered him her hand, which he kissed in
"Do you know," said Isabella, after a few
moments' silence, "that events are taking a turn in Castelcicala, which may
lead to all that poor Mary-Anne has prophesied? There was a strong party in the
state opposed to the marriage of the Grand Duke; and the military department was
"I remember that in the accounts which I read of
the celebration of that marriage, it was stated that the ducal procession
experienced a chilling reception from the soldiery"
"True," answered Isabella; " and early
last month — a few days after the commencement of the new year — that
spirit showed itself more unequivoca1ly still. Three regiments surrounded the
ducal palace, and demanded a constitution. The Grand Duke succeeded in pacifying
them with vague promises; and the regiments retired to their quarters. It then
appears that his Serene Highness wished to make an example of those regiments,
and drew up a decree ordaining them to be disbanded, the officers to be
cashiered, and the men to be distributed amongst other corps."
"That was a severe measure," remarked Richard.
"So severe," continued Isabella, "that
General Grachia, the Minister of War, refused to sign the ducal ordinance. He
was accordingly compelled to resign, the Duke remaining inflexible. The whole of
the Cabinet-Ministers then sent in their resignations, which the Grand Duke
accepted. Signor Pisani, the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was charged
with the formation of a new ministry — a fact which shows how
completely the Duke has alienated from himself all the great statesmen of
"So that he has been compelled to have recourse to
an Under Secretary as his Prime Minister," observed Richard.
"Precisely," answered Isabella. "Signor
Pisani formed an administration; and its first act was to carry into force the
decree already drawn up against the three discontented regiments. The second
proceeding of the new ministry was to banish General Grachia from the
"This was madness!" ejaculated Markham.
"Does the Grand Duke wish to seal his own ruin?"
"It would appear that he is desperate,"
continued Isabella, "as I shall show you in a moment. General Grachia left
Montoni, accompanied by his family, and followed by immense multitudes, who
cheered him as the well-known friend of the Prince my father. The troops also
crowded in his way, to show their respect for the veteran chief who had so often
led them to conquest. The next morning a ducal ordinance appeared, which showed
that the Grand Duke was resolved to throw off the mask, and proclaim a
despotism. I have the Montoni Gazette in my reticule."
Isabella produced the newspaper, and, opening it, said,
"I will translate the ordinance to you."
"Nay — rather allow me to read it for
myself," returned Markham.
"How? But it is in Italian," exclaimed the
"And I will read it in that tongue," said
"I was not aware — I knew not until
now — "
"No, dearest Isabella: until lately the Italian
language was as Chinese to me," interrupted Richard: "but I have
studied it intensely — without aid, without guidance; and if I
cannot speak it fluently nor with the correct pronunciation, I can understand it
with ease, and — I flatter myself — speak at least
The lovely Italian girl listened to this announcement
with the most tender interest. She received it as a proof of boundless love for
her; and sweet — ineffably sweet was the glance of deep gratitude
which she threw upon her lover.
Richard took the Montoni Gazette from the fair
hand which tendered it to him, and then read, with ease and fluency, the
following translation of the ducal ordinance alluded to: —
"ANGELO III, BY THE GRACE OP GOD, GRAND
DUKE OF CASTELCICALA,
To all present and to come, Greeting
'We have ordered and do order that which follows: —
"I. The censorship of the press is restored from
this [-46-] date: and no newspaper nor periodical
work shall be published in our dominions, without the consent of the Minister of
"II. Offences against this law, as well as all
others connected with the press, shall henceforth be brought before the
cognizance of the Captain-General of the province where such offences may occur,
instead of before the Ordinary tribunals.
"III. No assembly of more than seven persons will
henceforth be allowed to take place, without the consent of the local
authorities, save for the purposes of religious worship and ceremonial.
"IV. Our Captains-General are hereby authorised to
declare martial law in their provinces, or any part of their provinces, should
signs of insubordination appear.
"V. Our Minister Secretary of State for the
Department of the Interior will see to the execution of this our ordinance.
'By the Grand Duke, ANGELO III
Minister of the Interior.
January 10th, 1840
"The Grand Duke has thus destroyed the freedom of
the press, promulgated a law to suppress political meetings, and menaced the
country with martial law," said Richard, when he had terminated the perusal
of this ordinance.
"And it would appear, by the newspapers and by
private letters which my father has received," added Isabella, "that
the Grand Duke would have proceeded to extremes far more dangerous to his
throne, had not his amiable Duchess softened him. But even her
intercessions — and I understand she is a most deserving
princess — were ineffectual in a great measure."
"Know you the results of that despotic
ordinance!" asked Markham.
"Several riots have taken place at Montoni,"
answered the Signora; "and the Captain-General of the province of Abrantani
has proclaimed martial law throughout the districts which he governs."
"Matters are then becoming serious in Castelcicala,"
observed Richard. "What has become of General Grachia?"
"No one knows. He left Montoni within twenty-four
hours after the receipt of the decree of exile; but my father has received no
information of his progress or intentions. Oh! my beloved country," she
exclaimed, in a tone of pious fervour, "may God grant that thou wilt not be
the scene of anarchy, bloodshed, and civil strife!"
Richard surveyed his beautiful companion with the most
enraptured admiration, as she uttered that holy wish, — a wish that
spoke so eloquently of the absence of all selfishness from her pure soul.
The above conversation had been carried on in a subdued
tone; and its topic had not excluded from the minds of the young lovers the
recollection of the sad scene which they had ere now witnessed.
Indeed they only pursued their discourse upon that
particular subject, because it was connected with the chain of events which
seemed adapted to carry out the prophetic hopes of the dying girl.
Nearly an hour had passed since they had left the
chamber of death.
At length the door opened slowly, and Mr. Gregory
entered the drawing-room.
His countenance was deadly pale; and yet it wore an
expression of pious resignation.
Isabella and Richard knew that all was over.
Mr. Gregory advanced towards them, and taking their
hands, said, "She is gone — she died in my arms! Almost her
last words were, 'Tell Isabella and Richard sometimes to think of
The bereaved parent could subdue him grief no longer: he
threw himself upon the sofa and burst into tears.
Nor were the cheeks of Isabella and Richard unmoistened
by the holy dew of sweet sympathy.
"Richard," said Mr. Gregory, after a long
pause, "you must write to my sons and tell them of this sad affliction.
Desire them to return home immediately from college: I was wrong not to have
sent for them before; but — my God! I knew not that my sweet child's
death was so near!"
Markham instantly complied with Mr. Gregory's request,
and despatched the letter to the post.
Scarcely was this duty accomplished, when Count
Alteroni's carriage drove up to the door. It was, however, empty, having been
merely sent to fetch Isabella home.
The Signora took leave of Mr. Gregory, and bade a tender
adieu to Richard, who handed her into the vehicle.
The carriage then drove away.
Richard passed the remainder of the day with Mr.
Gregory, and returned home in the evening deeply affected at the misfortune
which had over-taken an amiable family.
But Markham, on his arrival at his own house, was doomed
to hear tidings of a most unpleasant nature.
"Mr. Tracy's footman has been here with very
disagreeable news," said Ellen, the moment Markham entered the
sitting-room. "Had I known whither you were gone, I should have directed
him on to you."
"Mr. Tracy's footman!" exclaimed Richard.
"Why — he was here last evening, with a letter from his master
inviting me and Mr. Monroe to dine with him next Monday — "
"I am aware of it," interrupted Ellen.
"And you declined the invitation."
"Yes — because I do not seek
society," observed Richard. "I wrote a proper answer: what, then, did
his servant require to-day!"
"It appears that a young person in whom you felt
some interest — "
"Katherine Wilmot?" said Richard.
"That is the name," returned Ellen.
"What about her!" asked our hero.
"She has committed a crime — "
"A crime of the blackest dye: she has poisoned Mr.
"Ellen you are deceived — you are
mistaken: it is impossible!" exclaimed Markham. "I never saw her but
once, it is true: and still the impression she made upon me was most favourable.
I did not a mention any thing concerning her to either you or your father,
because I sought to do an act of humanity in tearing her away from a wretched
home, and I am not one who speaks of such a deed as that."
"I am not deceived — I am not mistaken,
Richard, answered Ellen. "The footman came and narrated to me the
particulars: and he said that his master was too unwell, through horror and
excitement, to write to you upon the subject."
Ellen then related the few particulars yet known [-47-]
in connexion with the case, but the nature of which is already before the
Richard remained silent for a long time, after Ellen had
ceased to speak.
"If that innocent-looking girl be a
murderess," he exclaimed at length, "I shall never put faith in human
appearances again. But, until she be proved guilty, I will not desert her."
"Do you know," said Ellen, "that I do not
like your Mr. Tracy at all! Not that I suppose him capable of falsely accusing
any one of so heinous a crime as murder; but I do not like him."
"A female caprice, Ellen," observed Richard.
"The world in general adores him."
"Ah! those who stand upon the highest pinnacle
often experience the most signal falls," said Ellen.
"The breath of calumny has never tainted his fair
fame," cried Richard.
"Alas! we have so many — many instances
of profound ecclesiastical hypocrisy," persisted Miss Monroe.
"Ellen, you wrong an excellent man," said
Markham, somewhat severely. "I will call upon him to-morrow morning, and
learn from his own lips the particulars of this most mysterious deed."
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