chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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It was nine o'clock at night when the post-chaise
entered the capital of Castelcicala
In spite of his unfortunate position, a
prisoner, defeated in his grand aims, and with all his hopes apparently
blasted, Richard could not help feeling a glow of pleasure when he
thus found himself in the sovereign city which was the birth place of his
But, oh! in what a state did he now enter its walls!
Instead of accompanying a victorious army to proclaim
Alberto Grand Duke of Castelcicala, instead of the society of the
patriotic Grachia and the heroic Morosino, instead of hearing the
welcome voices of a liberated people echoing around, the young man
was in the custody of a subaltern, and, for aught he knew, on his way to a
Then Grachia, Morosino, and the other
chiefs of the enterprise where were they?
Numbered with the dead or captives in the
hands of a savage conqueror!
Oh! how were Markham's fondest hopes blasted! how were
his elysian dreams dissipated by the mocking reality of disaster and defeat!
Now, too, how much farther than ever was be removed from
the sole object of his toils, the only hope of his
existence, the hand of Isabella!
Her father, who had all along discountenanced the
projects of the Constitutionalists, but who would naturally have pardoned them
had they succeeded, could not for a moment be expected to forgive the survivors
of that terrible defeat!
All these gloomy ideas annihilated in a moment the
temporary glow of pleasure which our hero had experienced on entering Montoni.
The chaise traversed the southern part of the
metropolis, crossed the Ferretti by a noble bridge, [-108-]
and entered the most fashionable and imposing quarter of that portion of the
city which stands on the northern side of the river.
At length it stopped at an hotel.
"We shall alight here," said Mario Bazzano.
"But this is not a prison!" exclaimed Richard.
"I never told you that you were on your way to such
a place," returned the aide-de-camp, laughing.
"Did you not hint at imprisonment, signor?"
said our hero, Surprised at the kind forbearance shown towards him captured,
as he had been, with arms in his hand against the reigning Prince.
"That may, or may not happen," replied Bazzano.
"At all events, here we will alight: and, remember, while in my charge, you
are on your parole. It is not necessary to let the gossips of this tavern know
who you are, or why you are here with me."
"My honour is pledged, and the vow will be
punctually fulfilled," said Markham.
They then descended from the vehicle, and were conducted
to a private apartment in the hotel.
Bazzano ordered refreshments: then, as soon as he
himself had drunk a glass of wine and eaten a mouthful of food, he left the
room, simply observing, "I may be absent nearly an hour; but I will thank
you not to retire to rest until my return."
Markham bowed an acquiescence with this request; and, as
soon as the door had closed behind the aide-de-camp, he exclaimed, "If
Signor Bazzano be a fair specimen of the Castelcicalans generally, they are a
"Some kind power seems to protect you in this
country, Mr. Markham," observed Morcar.
"I candidly confess that I am at a loss to
interpret these occurrences," returned our hero. "At the moment when
the cord is round my neck, the mention of my name saves my life, and Converts an
enemy into a stanch friend. Even the ferocious Captain-General of Abrantani
relaxes all his natural severity in my behalf. Then, instead of being chained, I
am scarcely guarded: instead of being placed between two soldiers with loaded
muskets, I am allowed to remain upon parole. He who has charge of me, leaves me
for an hour, with a simple request not to retire to rest until his return!
Yes some secret power protects me. It is true that a few years ago
I once met her who now occupies a seat on the Grand-ducal throne," he
continued, rather musing to himself, than addressing his words to Morcar;
"but she can scarcely remember-or, even if she do could not
be supposed to interest herself in one so obscure, so humble as I!"
Then he paced the room lost in conjecture,
and giving way to the immense variety of reflections which his position was
calculated to engender.
In an hour the young aide-de-camp returned.
"Signor Markham," he said, "you will have
the kindness to accompany me whither I shall conduct you. You," he added,
addressing himself to Morcar, "must await our return here."
Richard signified his readiness to follow Bazzano; and
they left the hotel together.
It was now past eleven o'clock; and, though the shops
were all closed, the streets of Mouton were resplendent with the lustre which
streamed from the windows of the cafés, restaurants, and clubhouses.
Markham could not help observing to his companion that
there appeared to be numerous patrols of military moving about in the capital,
and that the sentinels were posted along the streets at very short intervals.
"The news of this morning's invasion reached
Montoni several hours ago," answered the aide-de-camp; "and I do not
disguise from you the fact that until this strong military demonstration was
made, the city was in an extraordinary ferment. This I heard just now, previous
to my return to the hotel."
"The reigning Grand Duke seems very
unpopular," observed Markham.
Bazzano made no reply: it was evident that he could not
contradict the assertion; and, being in his sovereign's service, he could not
with propriety corroborate it.
A quarter of an hour's rapid walking brought our hero
and the young officer to an immense square; and the magnificent buildings on two
sides thereof sited a brilliant light from their ample casements.
"This is the ducal palace," said Mario.
Crossing the square, the officer led the way towards a
small door in one of the angles of the immense edifice.
Mario knocked gently; and the door was immediately
opened by a tall servant in a gorgeous livery.
Markham followed his companion into a small vestibule,
brilliantly lighted, and at the Cod of which was a narrow staircase carpetted
Not a word was spoken: the domestic bowed as the two
young men passed him; and Bazzano led the way up the staircase, which, was
lighted by lamps held in the hands of marble statues placed in recesses.
On the landing which the visitors speedily reached, an
usher, dressed in black, and wearing a massive gold chain, advanced to receive
them; and, opening a door, conducted them into an ante-room, where he requested
them to be seated.
He then opened another door on the opposite side from
which they had entered the room, and disappeared for a few minutes.
On his return, he desired Markham to follow him.
Our hero obeyed, and was led through several magnificent
apartments, all brilliantly lighted, but unoccupied at the moment.
At length the usher paused in a room smaller, but more
elegantly furnished, than any of the proceding ones; and, having requested our
hero to take a seat, he retired by the same door by which they had entered that
For a few minutes Richard remained alone with his
He was now in the Castelcicalan palace. But wherefore
had he been brought thither? Was it to undergo an examination before the Grand
Duke, relative to the invasion of the morning? was it to be overwhelmed with
reproaches by that sovereign against whom, and without provocation, he had borne
arms? Could treachery be meditated? No that idea was absurd. He
was so completely in the power of the Grand Duke, that there had been no need to
exercise treachery towards him, if punishment were intended.
Then our hero thought of the Grand Duchess. Had she
learnt that he was engaged in the expedition? had she remembered his name? was
it through her he had received that treatment from Mario Bazzano which had so
astonished him? could [-109-] it be possible that
she would interest herself in him?
He was in the midst of his reverie, when a door opposite
to where he was sitting, suddenly opened; and a lady, elegantly attired, with a
tiara of diamonds upon her brow, entered the apartment.
One glance was sufficient for Richard Markham! He
immediately recognised the beautiful woman whom he had seen five years
previously, disguised in male attire, at Mrs. Arlington's lodgings, and whose
singular history had subsequently reached his ears when he was imprisoned at the
same time as herself, though of course not in the same department, in Newgate.
Yes he recognised her who was once
Eliza Sidney; and he now bent his head to the grand Duchess of Castelcicala.
Although somewhat pale, and showing a slightly deeper
shade of that melancholy expression which her countenance had acquired during
her captivity of two years, Eliza was still eminently lovely.
Her form had expanded into those proportions which
indicated the maturity of her charms, but which gave to her beauty a
voluptuousness that was only attempered by the chaste glances of her melting
hazel eyes, and the halo of purity which dwelt on her lofty and spotless brow.
And well fitted was that pure and open forehead to be
crowned with the glittering tiara which denoted her sovereign rank, and which
set off to such exquisite advantage the large bands of her light, luxuriant,
shining, chesnut hair!
Her walk was a dignified and yet harmonious
motion; her gesture expressed no particle of hauteur, but still
denoted a consciousness of the respect which she felt to be due to her position
as a Princess, and to her character as a woman.
"Resume your seat, Mr. Markham," she said in a
sweet tone, and with a manner full of grace: then, placing herself on a sofa at
a short distance, she added, "I have had the pleasure of seeing you before;
but little did I then suppose that the next time we met, it would be under such
circumstances as these."
"I comprehend your Serene Highness," answered
Markham, firmly, but respectfully. "We meet your Highness as
a sovereign Princess, and I as a prisoner at the disposal of those who have
power to command in this State."
"Such is indeed the fact, Mr. Markham,"
returned the Grand Duchess, with a half smile. "But I did not send for you
hither to reproach you. Doubtless you considered yourself justified in the
proceedings which you have adopted, and in joining the cause of those mistaken
men who this morning set hostile feet upon these shores; for I
have received from an agent of mine in England assurances of your honourable
nature and estimable character; and I did not fail some time since to issue
those secret instructions to the various authorities, which saved your life this
morning, and ensured you good treatment at the hands of those into whose power
you were doomed to fall. Moreover, I learn that you behaved most gallantly in
the conflict between your party and the ducal troops; and I can respect bravery,
Mr. Markham, even in an enemy."
"Your Serene Highness will give me credit for the
sincerity with which I express my gratitude for the kindness that I have
received at your hands, said Markham; "especially under circumstances,
which whatever opinion I may entertain of them could
not have served me as a very favourable passport to the notice of your
"Mr. Markham," returned the Grand Duchess,
"you are an Englishman and that is one reason to induce me to
exercise some leniency in your case; for however profoundly my interests may be
identified with this country, it is impossible that I can forget my own.
Secondly, I am better acquainted with your history than you imagine. Do you
remember an anonymous letter which your late father received some
years ago, yes it was in 1831, I believe, warning
him of a burglarious attempt which was contemplated in respect to his
"I remember well the letter to which your Highness
alludes," answered Markham, surprised at this mention of an incident which
had occurred only a short time previously to the separation of himself and his
brother on the hill-top.
"That letter was written by myself," said the
Grand Duchess, with a smile.
"Written by your Highness!" ejaculated
Markham, more and more amazed at what he heard.
"Yes, Mr. Markham," continued Eliza "it
was I who sent that warning. Circumstances enabled me to overhear the discourse
of two miscreants in whose den I accidentally took refuge during a storm, and
whence I narrowly escaped with my life. But enough of that: I merely mentioned
the circumstance to show you that your name has long been familiar to me. Then,
about four years after that event, I met you at the abode of a lady from whom I
have since received signal kindnesses, and who is now the Countess of
"I remember that evening well, your Highness,
"Afterwards," resumed the Grand Duchess,
sinking her voice, "you and I were the inmates of a tenement whose severity
you deserved perhaps much less than I though heaven knows the
artifice that was used to involve me in that desperate venture!"
"Your Serene Highness has heard, then that I too
was innocent of the crime laid to my charge!" said Markham.
"I imagined so when I first learnt the particulars
of your case at the time of its occurrence," answered the Grand Duchess;
"and my agent in England has lately confirmed me in that belief. Then
again," she added, with an arch smile, "I am not ignorant of the
motives which induced you to embark, like a gallant cavalier, in the enterprise
whose results have led to this interview."
"Your Serene Highness will not wrong, by injurious
suspicions, an exiled family!" said Markham, well knowing to what Eliza
"No!" exclaimed the Grand Duchess, solemnly
"I am aware that Prince Alberto did not countenance the expedition; and I
can scarcely believe that his charming daughter," she continued, archly
smiling again, "could have been very ready to permit you to embark on so
mad an enterprise. You see, Mr. Markham, that I am acquainted with more than you
would have supposed me to know. And now perhaps, you will be surprised, when I
assure you that I entertain the most profound respect and esteem for Prince
Alberto and his family although I have never seen them. But,
oh!" exclaimed Eliza, wiping away a tear, "how great was my grief when
I learnt, this afternoon, that my friend General Grachia had fallen in the
conflict of the morning!" [-110-]
"General Grachia invariably spoke to me in the most
pleasing terms of your Serene Highness," observed Richard.
"Do not think, Mr. Markham," said the Grand
Duchess, after a pause, during which she seemed a prey to deep thoughts "do
not think that I have been a party to all the instances of severity and
sentences of exile which have lately characterised the political history of
Castelcicala. No, Mr. Markham I would not have you think
unworthily of your fellow-countrywoman. But, enough of that! You can well
imagine that I am not all-powerful here: otherwise," she
added, with a sigh, "it would be different! Time is, however, pressing; and
I have not yet spoken to you on the matter which ought to form the principal
topic of our conversation; I mean your own position. You have
heard enough from my lips to show you that you are not unknown to me, and that
there are consequently reasons which have induced me to interest myself in your
behalf. But, as I ere now observed, my power is not unlimited; and although my
secret wishes are commands in the eyes of Count Santa. Croce and his officers,
still my influence is not sufficient to protect you from the vengeance of the
Grand Duke, did he know that one of the invaders was at large and unpunished in
his dominions. It is true that I can soften his rigour as I shall
do in respect to those unhappy prisoners "
"God be thanked that their condition excites the
compassion of your Serene Highness!" exclaimed Markham fervently. "A
weight is removed from my mind by this assurance!"
"Rest satisfied on that head," said Eliza.
"I can promise you that imprisonment is the worst punishment which shall
overtake any of them."
When Eliza had first entered the room, Richard had bowed
his head low to the Grand Duchess, but now he sank on his bended knee in
presence of the humane and tender-hearted woman.
Eliza felt the full force of this expression of
feeling: it rewarded her for her goodness!
She extended her hand towards him; and he respectfully
touched it with his lips.
Then he rose, and resumed his seat.
Oh! at that moment, how sweet-how sweet to the amiable
and noble-minded woman, noble in nature, as well as in name, was
the possession of power; and how amply recompensed was she for its
humane use, by that spontaneous tribute of respect which she had just received
from her fellow countryman!
"Mr. Markham," she said, after a pause,
"you must escape from Castelcicala: but that is not so easy a matter as you
may haply imagine The Castelcicalan steam-frigates will rigorously guard the
coast by sea, and the custom-house officers by land; and not a ship will leave
one of our ports without being searched. Orders to that effect have already been
issued by the Minister of Marine; and I dare not interfere to prevent their full
operation Are you bold enough to strike far into the country, is traverse its
length, and obtain refuge in the Neapolitan kingdom!"
"And wherefore not in the Roman States, my
lady?" asked Richard. "Their frontier is but a day's distance from
"Because the Grand Duke has concluded a league,
offensive and defensive, with the Pope; and you would assuredly be detected in
the dominions of his Holiness, and sent ignominiously back to Montoni in
which case, Mr. Markham, I could not save you."
"And what chance of safety do I possess by
following the plan suggested by your Serene Highness?"
"Every chance," was the decided reply.
"In the first place, Signor Mario Bazzano will procure for you a passport:
his uncle is Under-Secretary for the Interior. This passport, made out for you
in a fictitious name, will be dated from Montoni, and the various authorities
will never suspect that one of the invaders could possibly have obtained such a
document from the capital itself. Secondly, you can purchase a portfolio with
drawing materials and pass yourself off for an English artist, sent to
Castelcicala to design some of the most striking features of Italian scenery. By
these means there wall be an ostensible reason for avoiding the great cities and
towns; and no suspicion will be excited by your keeping as much as possible to
the open country. Does my plan please you?"
"How can I ever sufficiently express my gratitude
to your Serene Highness for all this kind consideration this
unlooked-for generosity?" cried Markham.
"By abstaining from plans of invasion or
insurrection in future," answered Eliza.
"Ah! how can I pledge myself to such a
condition!" exclaimed Richard. "Should circumstances induce or compel
Prince Alberto to strike a blow "
"I fully comprehend you," interrupted the
Grand Duchess. "In that case, I impose no conditions whatsoever upon you.
Go, Mr. Markham adopt the plan which I have suggested and
you will soon be beyond the reach of danger. And excuse me," she added,
after a moment's pause, "if I act as your banker, as well as your adviser.
Use this purse; and, on your arrival in England, you can liquidate the debt by
affording succour to any needy Castelcicalan whom chance may throw in your
"Before I receive this new proof of your
goodness before I take my leave, your Serene
Highness must permit me, on my bended knee," and our hero
sank to that posture as he spoke, "to declare that, while I
shall henceforth consider myself indebted to your Highness in an obligation
which I can never repay, while I shall ever hold myself ready to
serve your Highness by day and night, and to dare every earthly danger in so
doing in order to evince my gratitude for all that your Highness
has this day done for me, still I would rather be delivered up to
the hands of justice, I would rather die on the scaffold
to-morrow, or take my stand in front of a platoon, than
renounce Englishman foreigner though I be-the cause
of Castelcicalan liberty!"
"Rise, headstrong foolish young
man," exclaimed the Grand Duchess, smiling. "I seek to impose no
conditions upon you. "Go; and when once you are beyond the Castelcicalan
territory, use your own free will let no shackle of any kind curb
the ardour of your soul. At the same time, beware! On another occasion, I may
seek to protect you in vain!"
"Never never again, your Highness,
will I wantonly aid in provoking civil strife in Castelcicala!" ejaculated
Richard. "Two motives shall along henceforth be powerful enough to induce
me to unsheath the hostile weapon in this clime." [-111-]
"And which are they!" asked Eliza, still half
smiling as she spoke.
"In obedience to the command of Prince
Alberto and then only if his cause be just; or in order to relieve
Castelcicala from some foreign invader."
"And may God grant that neither of those
alternatives shall ever occur!" said the Grand Duchess. "But our
interview has already lasted a long time; and delay is dangerous to you."
Eliza once more extended her hand towards our hero, who
pressed it respectfully, but with fervour, to his lips.
He then withdrew.
In the adjoining apartment he found the usher waiting
They retraced their steps to the ante-room, where Signor
Mario Bazzano was seated, expecting their return.
In a few minutes our hero and the young aide-de-camp
were on their way back to the hotel.
During the walk, Bazzano said, "I presume you have
assented to the plan which her Highness has devised for your safe retreat into
the Neapolitan territory?"
Markham replied in the affirmative.
"In that case I will procure passports for yourself
and attendant, to-morrow morning," observed the young officer. "But,
for the present, we all three stand in need of rest."
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
| > next chapter >