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LONDON [Vol. II]
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we now to one whom we have long left, but whom the reader cannot have forgotten.
In a sumptuously furnished room at the house of Mr.
Wentworth, the surgeon of Lower Holloway, Diana Arlington was reclining upon a
She was dressed in an elegant manner; but a large black
lace veil, doubled so as to render it more impervious to the eye of a beholder,
was thrown over her head. The folds were also so arranged that the elaborately
worked border completely concealed her countenance.
She was alone.
An open piano, a harp, and piles of music, together with
a choice selection of volumes on the shelves of a book-case, denoted the nature
of her amusements during her residence of several weeks at the surgeon's abode.
It was mid-day.
The damask curtains at the windows were drawn in such a
manner as to reduce the light of the effulgent sun to a mellow and soft lustre
within that apartment.
Beautiful nosegays of flowers imparted a delicious
fragrance to the atmosphere.
The bounty of the Earl of Warrington had furnished the
room in a style of luxury which could scarcely be surpassed.
But was Diana happy?
Were those sighs which agitated her heaving bosom, — was
that restlessness which she now manifested, — was that frequent
listening as the sounds of wheels passed along the road, — were all
these signs of sorrow or of suspense?
Patience, gentle reader.
The time-piece on the mantel had chimed midday.
"He is not punctual," murmured Diana. Ten
"He does not come!" she said aloud. And her
At length a carriage drove rapidly up to the door; and a
long double knock reverberated through the house.
"'Tis hot" cried Diana.
In a few moments the Earl of Warrington entered the
"Diana — dearest Diana!" exclaimed
the nobleman, starting back when he beheld her countenance covered with that
ominous dark veil: "is it indeed thus — "
"Thus that we meet after so long an absence?"
added the Enchantress. "Yes, my lord: Mr. Wentworth must have told you as
"No, Diana," answered the Earl, seating
himself upon the sofa by her side, and taking her hand: "you know not by
what a strange idiosyncrasy my conduct has been influenced. I entrusted you to
Mr. Wentworth's care: I enjoined him to spare no money that might procure the
best advice — the most efficient means of cure. Then I resigned
myself to a suspense from which I might at any moment have relieved my mind by
an inquiry; — but at the bottom of that suspense was a fond, a
burning hope which made the feeling tolerable — nay, even vested the
excitement with a peculiar charm -of its own. I took it for granted that you
would be cured — that your countenance would be restored to that
beauty which had originally attracted me towards you; — and now, may
I not say — without detriment to my own firm character as a man, and
without indelicacy towards your feelings, — may I not say that I am
"And is this my fault!" asked Diana, in a soft
plaintive tone. "Does your lordship suppose that I have not also
suffered — that I do not at present suffer?"
"Oh! yes — you have — you
do," answered the nobleman, pressing her hand with warm affection.
"When we were happy in each other's society, Diana," he
continued," I never spoke to you of love: indeed, I experienced for you
nothing more than a fervent friendship and profound admiration. But since I have
ceased to see you — during the interval of our separation — I
found that you were necessary to me, — that I could not be
altogether happy without you, — that your conversation had charms
which delighted me, — and that your attachment was something on
which I could ponder with infinite pleasure. My feelings have warmed towards
you; and I — I, the Earl of Warrington — experience for
you a feeling which, if not so romantic and enthusiastic as my first
affection, is not the less honourable and sincere."
"Ah! my lord," said Diana, in a tremulous
tone, "why raise the cup of happiness to my lips, when a stern fatality
must dash it so cruelly away?"
"No, Diana — it shall not be thus
dashed away," answered the Earl, emphatically. "I am rich — I
am my own master: not a living soul has a right to control or question my
conduct. The joy which I anticipated at this meeting shall not be altogether
destroyed. Here, Diana — here I offer you my hand.; and on your
brow — scarred, blemished by an accident though it be — that
hand shall place a coronet!"
"My lord, this honour — this goodness
is too much," said Diana, in a tone of deep emotion "Remember that I
am no longer possessed of those charms which once attracted you; and now that
they are gone — gone for ever — I may speak of what they
were without vanity! Remember, I say, that you will ever have before you a
countenance seared as with a red-hot iron, — a countenance on which
you will scarcely be able to look without loathing in spite of all the love
which your generous heart [-94-] may entertain for
me! Remember that when I deck myself in the garments befitting the rank to which
you seek to elevate me, that splendour would be a hideous mockery — like
the fairest flowers twining round the revolting countenance of a corpse on which
the hand of decay has already placed its mark! Remember, in a word, that you
will be ashamed of her whom, in a moment of generous enthusiasm, you offer to
reward for so much suffering — suffering which originated in no
fault of yours! — remember all this, my lord — and
pause — reflect — I implore you to consider well the
step you are taking!"
"Diana, I am not a child that I do not know my own
mind," answered the Earl: "moreover, I have the character of firmness:
and I shall never repent the proposal I now make you — provided
you yourself do not give me cause by your conduct"
"And on that head — "
"I have every confidence — the deepest
conviction, Diana," interrupted the Earl, warmly.
"Your wishes, then, are my commands — and
I obey," returned Diana, her voice thrilling with tones expressive of
ineffable joy. "But shall we not ratify our engagement with one kiss!"
And as she spoke she slowly drew the black veil from her
The nobleman's heart palpitated, as she did so, with
emotions of the most painful suspense — even of alarm: he felt like
a man who in another instant must know the worst.
The veil dropped.
"Heavens! Diana," exclaimed the Earl, starting
with surprise and indescribable delight.
For instead of a countenance seared and marked, he
beheld a pure and spotless face glowing with a beauty which, even in her
loveliest moments, had never seemed to invest her before.
Not a scar — not a trace of the accident was
Her pouting lips were like the rose moistened with dew:
her high, pale forehead was pure as marble; and her cheeks were suffused in
blushes which seemed to he born beneath the clustering ringlets of her dark
"Ah! Diana," exclaimed the Earl, as he drew
her to his breast, "how can I punish thee for this cheat?"
'You will pardon me," she murmured, as she clasped
her warm white arms around his neck, and imprinted a delicious kiss upon his
lips, while her eyes were filled with a voluptuous languor, — "you
will pardon me when you know my motives. But can you not divine them?"
"You wished to put my affection to the test,
Diana." said the Earl. "Yes — I must forgive you — for
you are beautiful — you are adorable — and I love
"And if the sincerest and most devoted attachment
on my part can reward you for all your past goodness, and for the honours which
you now propose to shower upon me, then shall I not fail to testify my
gratitude," exclaimed Diana.
These vows were sealed with innumerable kisses.
At Length the Earl rose to depart.
"Three days hence," he said, "my carriage
will be sent to fetch you to the church where our hands shall be united."
"And our hearts — for ever,"
The nobleman embraced her once more, and took his leave.
But he did not immediately quit the house: he had
business with Mr. Wentworth to transact.
We know not the precise sum that this generous peer
presented to the surgeon: this, however, we can assure our readers, that he kept
his word to the very letter — for Mr. Wentworth became rich in one
"If you succeed in restoring her to me,"
had the Earl said, when he first entrusted Diana to the surgeon's Care, "in
that perfection of beauty which invested her when I took leave of her
yesterday — without a mark, without a scar, — your
fortune shall be my care, and you will have no need to entertain anxiety
relative to the future, with the Earl of Warrington as your patron."
Such were the nobleman's words upon that occasion: and, on the present, he amply
fulfilled his promise.
Three days after, Diana became the Countess of
The happy news were thus communicated by the bride to
her sincerest and best friend
March 22nd. 1840.
"TO HER SERENE HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUCHESS OF
"I steal a few minutes from a busy day, my dearest
Eliza, — for by that dear and familiar name you permit me to call
you. — to inform you that I have this morning united my destinies
with those of the Earl of Warrington. In a former letter I acquainted you with
the dreadful accident which menaced me with horrible scars and marks for
life: — you will be pleased to know that the skill and unwearied
attention of my medical attendant have succeeded in completely restoring me to
my former appearance — so that not a trace of the injury remains
upon my person. The Earl of Warrington has elevated me to the proud position of
his wife: the remainder of my existence shall be devoted to the study of his
"I regret to perceive by your letters, dearest
Eliza, that you are not altogether happy. You say that the Grand Duke loves you;
but his temper is arbitrary — his disposition despotic. And yet he
is amiable and gentle in his bearing towards you. Study to solace yourself with
this conviction. He has elevated you to a rank amongst the reigning princesses
of Europe; and as you have embraced the honour., so must you endure some few of
the political alarms and annoyances which are invariably attached to so proud a
position. You tremble lest the conduct of the Grand Duke, in alienating from him
those who are considered his best friends, should endanger his crown. Are you
convinced that those persons are indeed his friends! Of course I know not — I
cannot determine: I would only counsel you, my dearest friend, not to form hasty
conclusions relative to the policy of his Serene Highness.
"I perceive by the English newspapers, that there
are numerous Castelcicalan refugees in this country. Amongst them are General
Grachia and Colonel Morosino, both of whom, I believe, occupied high offices in
their native land. They, however, appear, so far as I can learn, to be dwelling
tranquilly in London — no doubt awaiting the happy moment when it
shall please your Illustrious husband to recall them from exile.
His Highness Alberto of Castelcicala — (for
you are aware that the Earl of Warrington communicated to me some time ago the
real rank and name of Count Alteroni) — continues to reside
at his villa near Richmond. This much I glean from the public journals; but
doubtless you are well acquainted with all these facts, inasmuch as your
government has a representative at the English court.
"Adieu for the present, dearest Eliza: — I
knew not, when I sate down, that I should have been enabled to write so long a
letter. But I must now change my dress; for the carriage will be here shortly to
convey me to Warrington Park, where we are to pass the honeymoon.
"Ever your sincere friend,
Such are the strange phases which this world presents to
our view! That same Fortune, who, in [-95-] a
moment of caprice, had raised an obscure English lady to a ducal throne, placed,
when in a similar mood, a coronet upon the brow of another who had long filled a
most equivocal position in society.
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