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must now succinctly record a few incidents which occurred at the mansion of
Prince Alberto in the vicinity of Richmond, from the period when Richard bade
adieu to Isabella ere his departure for Castelcicala in the month of October,
1840, until the end of January, 1841 — that is, up to the date at
which we have brought our narrative in the preceding chapter.
The Princess Isabella declared, at her farewell meeting
with Richard, that wild hopes and exalted visions filled her imagination when
she contemplated the enterprise on which her lover was about to embark. So well
did she read the true character of our hero, and so elevated was her opinion of
his high qualifications, that she felt persuaded he only required an opportunity
to open for himself a grand and brilliant career.
Her boundless affection for Richard Markham aided her
not only in fostering these convictions, but also in shadowing forth and
defining the elements of a glorious success and rapid rise on the part of one to
whom her first and undivided love was given.
[-221-] But when she tore
herself away from his last embrace, — when she breathed the mournful
word "Farewell," and then separated from the generous, the
high-minded, and handsome young man who possessed her heart, — oh!
how acute was the anguish that filled her soul!
For some minutes — when he was no longer in
sight — all her golden dreams and glorious visions fled from her
imagination; — she strove to recall them, as a drowning person in
the dark hour of night struggles to gain the surface of the waters once more to
catch another glimpse of the bright stars above; — but hope seemed
to have yielded to blank despair.
The Princess, however, possessed a firm mind; and when
the primal burst of anguish was over, she wrestled with her gloomy imaginings,
until she gradually triumphed over their mournful influence.
Having purposely prolonged her walk homewards, in order
to compose herself, Isabella did not re-enter the mansion until she had
collected her scattered thoughts and had wiped away the traces of her tears.
Her father had all along discountenanced the expedition
to Castelcicala, so far as he was concerned; although he could not do otherwise
than wish it success. Indeed, as he himself had intimated to General Grachia, he
would no doubt have joined in it, had he been differently situated. It was
therefore with feelings of admiration that the Prince had from the first heard
of Markham's enthusiasm in the Constitutional cause: and at that period he
frequently found himself dwelling attentively upon the good points in Richard's
character which had once made our hero so welcome a guest at the mansion.
As for Isabella's mother, this Princess was more than
ever favourable towards Markham; for she saw in his present conduct nothing save
a profound devotion to the cause of her illustrious husband, and a laudable
ambition to render himself worthy of her daughter's love — that love
which was no secret to the parents of the amiable girl!
When Isabella returned to the drawing-room after her
interview with Richard, her still melancholy demeanour attracted the notice of
her affectionate parents.
"Where have you been, Isabel?" inquired the
Prince, eyeing her attentively.
"My dear father," was the instantaneous reply,
"I went for my usual walk in the adjacent fields, and I met Mr.
"Ah!" exclaimed the Prince, a little
"I do not pretend that it was accidentally on his
part," continued Isabella, in a tone expressive of the pride of truth;
"because he is the last person in the world to sanction duplicity of any
kind. It was, however, accidental in reference to myself — for I
knew not of his intention to seek an interview with in. this day."
"But you have met?" said the Prince, in a
softening voice, and with a manner which denoted how justly proud he was of the
upright mind of his daughter.
"We have met, dear father," answered Isabel,
wiping away a tear; "and — we have separated — perhaps,"
she added in a faltering tone, "never to meet again. Oh! be not angry with him — nor
with me, my dearest parents. — especially not with him!"
"No-we are not angry, my child," said the
Princess of Castelcicala, hastily. "Indeed, for my part, I wish that Mr.
Markham had come to wish us all farewell. But perhaps he will write — "
"I did not refuse his request on that
subject," murmured Isabella, casting down her eyes and blushing: "Oh!
no — I could not! And now, my dear parents, you know all. If I have
done wrong, I am deeply grieved; — but my conscience tells me that I
have not outraged the devotion and love that I owe to you."
The Prince made no reply: but the expression of his
countenance was not severe; and the Princess of Castelcicala embraced her
From that time the mansion contained three anxious
hearts; for the exiled family was deeply interested in the results of the
expedition to Castelcicala.
Who, then, can depict the disappointment with which the
tidings of the fatal affair of Ossore were received, at the end of November, in
The Prince and Princess perceived in the failure of the
enterprise a deep blow to their own cause in the Duchy, inasmuch as it was
calculated to afford the supporters of the Grand Duke an excuse for heaping
opprobrium on the name of Alberto, whom they would point out as the instigator
of the invasion; — and Isabella was overwhelmed with grief by the
mystery which at that period enveloped the fate of Richard.
Several days of heart-breaking suspense elapsed: the
colour forsook the maiden's cheek; and her countenance became expressive of a
Nor was this terrible uncertainty concerning Richard's
fate the only cause of affliction which she was now doomed to experience. Her
father was so profoundly affected by the failure of the expedition, and the
evils which he believed would result to his own interests in many respects, that
he became ill, and was soon unable to leave his bed.
Then how assiduous was the poor girl to her parent,
while her own heart was often well-nigh breaking! The Prince grew irritable and
impatient, and even reproached his daughter for fretting on account of one who,
as he declared, "had helped to hurry the Constitutional cause, — a
cause that might have triumphed in time, — to a most ruinous
catastrophe!" But Isabella bore all this without a murmur; and as her
father grew more harsh, her attentions towards him were redoubled. In her
mother's kindness and sympathy the afflicted maiden found a consolation; but she
could with difficulty bear up against the agony of suspense and alarm which she
experienced on account of her lover.
At length, — about a week after the receipt
of the fatal tidings connected with the battle of Ossore, — Whittingham
called at the mansion, and placed in Isabella's hand a letter from Richard.
"He lives! he lives!" were the maiden's first
words of reviving hope; "heaven be thanked — he lives!"
But Isabella's joy was speedily overclouded once more;
for she saw, by the guarded manner in which he wrote and by the omission of his
signature, that her lover was in danger.
Nevertheless — "where there is life,
there is hope," as the proverb says; and, somewhat consoled by this
conviction, she was less miserable than before!
[-222-] And now came
another tedious interval of suspense, the wretchedness of which was enhanced by
the increasing indisposition of the Prince.
At length — at the expiration of about three
weeks — the Princess Isabella received a letter from Signora Viviani,
the nature of which, as already known to our readers, was not extremely well
calculated to re-assure the affectionate girl relative to her lover. It was true
that she was informed of Richard's safe arrival at Pinalla, where he was in the
society of kind friends; but vague and torturing fears were aroused by the fact
that he himself had been unable to write to her.
Again was there a weary interval of silence; but this
was suddenly broken in a manner calculated to re-awaken all the bright hopes
which Isabella had once entertained relative to the future greatness of Richard
Markham. On the 16th of January, the news of the glorious exploit at Estella
reached the mansion of the exiled family in England; and inspired the young
Princess with the most enthusiastic feelings of admiration towards him whom she
loved so fondly, and of whom she had always thought so well.
"Oh! why am I bound to this bed of sickness!"
exclaimed the Prince, when Signor Viviani's letter narrating that event was read
to him. "Why am I not permitted to hasten to my native country, and take
part with that gallant youth! No consideration of policy or delicacy should now
restrain me; for the Austrian is in the land, and every true Castelcicalan
should draw the sword and fling away the scabbard!"
"Compose yourself, dearest father," said
Isabella, enraptured at the manner in which he had spoken of her lover:
"excitement will only delay your recovery; — and something
tells me that Castelcicala will soon demand your presence!"
But the Prince could not tranquillize his mind: the
thraldom of a sick bed had become more intolerable to him than ever; and,
although he now ceased to reproach his daughter, his irritability of temper
Three days afterwards letters were received at the
mansion announcing Richard's entry into Villabella. Then the colour came back
again to the cheeks of the charming Italian maiden; and her eyes shone with all
their wonted brilliancy. Forgotten were her recent sorrows — gone
was her agonising suspense — banished was the memory of her cruel
doubts; — her lover was already a hero-and hope was once more
enthroned in her heart.
The Prince now began to perceive the absolute necessity
of avoiding the excitement of useless repinings at that illness which still
chained him to his bed. Richard's letters told him how the inhabitants of
Villabella had shouted the thrilllng words "Long live Alberto! " — and
the Prince was inspired with hopes the extent of which he did not seek to
Four days elapsed; and when the postman was again
descried by the watchful Isabella advancing through the shrubbery towards the
mansion, how quickly beat the hearts of the illustrious exiles!
Yes-there were letters from Castelcicala: — never
were sealed documents more quickly torn open! And, oh! what joyous news did they
contain-the victory of Piacere!
Isabella's feelings found vent in tears: — she
was so happy — that she wept!
"These are indeed glorious tidings!" said the
Prince, raising himself upon his pillow; then, after a moment's pause, he
exclaimed warmly, "Richard Markham is a hero!"
Ah! how touchingly grateful was the glance which
Isabella cast upon her father through her tears, to thank him for that generous
sentiment relative to one in whom she felt so deep an interest!
Another short interval now occurred; and then fresh
letters came, bringing farther tidings of success. The battle of Abrantani was a
worthy sequence to that of Piacere!
"Oh! my beloved Isabella," now exclaimed the
Prince, pressing her to his heart, "can you forgive me for the reproaches I
have so unjustly — so wantonly uttered relative to Richard
"Think not of the past, dearest father,"
answered the maiden: "the present is so full of joy, and hope, and glory,
that we should not feel wearied of contemplating it."
"And, whatever may be the result of this
contest," observed the Princess of Castelcicala to her husband, "you
will always acknowledge that Richard is a hero!"
"He is a young man whom the greatest sovereign in
the world might be proud to claim as a son!" ejaculated the Prince,
Isabella pressed her mother's hand tenderly for having
obtained this most welcome avowal.
The health of Prince Alberto now rapidly improved; and
in a few days he was enabled to leave the couch to which he had been confined
for many weary weeks.
And Isabella — Oh! all the charming
carnation tinge had come back to her cheeks; and her eyes were brilliant with
the purest rays of happiness and hope. Her fondest dreams — her
brightest visions were all but realised: her lover was accomplishing those grand
destinies of which her mental vision had caught glimpses ere his departure from
England; and the world was already busy with his name. And now, too, was that
name ever upon the tongue of her father, who pronounced it with admiration and
A few days after the arrival of the intelligence of the
decisive victory of Abrantani, the newspapers acquainted the illustrious Italian
family with the fact that the Committee of Government at Montoni had bestowed
the title of Marquis of Estella upon the youthful Commander-in-Chief of the
Armies of Castelcicala.
Oh! with what joyous feelings — with what
ineffable emotions of enthusiasm, did the charming Isabella read aloud to her
parents that account of her lover's elevation, — an elevation which,
as he himself had felt convinced, must remove one grand obstacle that had
hitherto existed in the way of their happiness.
And how did her young heart beat and her bosom heave,
when her father exclaimed, in an emphatic tone, "Yes — Richard
is now a Marquis, and may take his rank amongst the proudest peers in the
universe; — but there is a higher grade which he yet may reach — and
it will be a happy day for us all when I shall say to him, 'Receive my
daughter as the reward of your achievements, and become a Prince!"
Isabella threw herself at her father's feet, and pressed
to her lips the hand which she also moistened with her tears. She endeavoured to
murmur [-223-] words of gratitude for that most
welcome assurance; but her heart was too full — she could only weep!
It was a most touching scene; and, perhaps, never had
that exiled family experienced more perfect happiness than on this occasion.
But the sentiment was soon destined to give way to new
fears and fresh anxieties. It was well-known that Montoni was besieged by an
immense Austrian force; and the English newspapers, in commenting upon the
position of the Constitutionalists, declared that though the moral effects of so
decisive a victory as that of Abrantani must be very great, there was
nevertheless much room to doubt whether the Marquis of Estella would be able to
assemble an army sufficiently strong to march to the relief of the capital.
Prince Alberto trembled as he read these observations;
because he not only comprehended their justice, but was also well aware that the
fate of Castelcicala could be alone decided by a pitched battle between the
Austrians and the Constitutionalists.
He endeavoured to conceal his misgivings from his wife
and daughter: but they saw what was passing in his mind; — and thus
all was still anxiety and hope — uncertainty and fervent aspiration,
at the mansion of the Prince.
Thus did a few days pass; and Alberto suffered a slight
relapse, in consequence of the nervous state of doubt in which he was plunged.
All his hopes — all his interests — all
his prospects were at stake. If the Constitutionalists were successful, a crown
awaited him: if the Austrians triumphed, the Grand Duke Angelo had pledged
himself to adopt a scion of the imperial family of Vienna as the heir to the
throne. Thus Prince Alberto hovered between a glorious elevation or a fatal
The Princess, his wife, entertained sanguine hopes that
a campaign so successfully begun, would terminate in triumph; and Isabella
called every argument to her aid to convince her father and mother that all must
end well! Nevertheless, poor girl! she also had her intervals of doubt and
alarm; and many were the tears which she shed in secret as she prayed for the
safety of her lover.
And now how eagerly was the arrival of the postman
looked for every day; how anxiously was the presence of the newspaper awaited!
At length, on the morning of the 29th of January, all
doubt. were cleared up — all uncertainties terminated.
The illustrious family was seated at the breakfast
table — a mere ceremonious mockery, for they were unable to eat a
Presently a servant entered, and presented the morning
paper to the Prince.
Alberto opened it with a trembling hand: his wife and
daughter watched him attentively.
Suddenly he started — his eyes were lighted
up with their wonted fires — a flush appeared on his pale
cheek — and he exclaimed in a fervent tone, "O God! I thank
H. could say no more: his emotions nearly overpowered
him, weakened as he was by a long illness.
Isabella caught the paper as it was falling from his
hands. One glance was sufficient: it told her all! For there — conspicuously
displayed at the head of a column — was the following glorious
"TOTAL DEFEAT OF THE AUSTRIANS — DELIVERANCE
"The French Government have received the following
Telegraphic Despatch from Toulon:-
"'The Castelcicalan steamer Torione has
just arrived. The Austrians were completely routed on the 23rd. Montoni is
delivered. The Grand Duke has fled. THE MARQUIS OF ESTELLA entered the
capital at three o'clock on the 24th. He has been appointed Regent until the
arrival of ALBERTO I. The Torione left while the cannon. were
saluting the presence of the MARQUIS.'"
"Let me be the first to congratulate your Serene
Highness on this glorious result!" exclaimed Isabella, falling at the feet
of her father, and pressing his hand to her lips.
"No — not on your knees, dearest
Isabel!" cried Alberto, now Grand Duke of Castelcicala: "but come to
my arms, sweet girl — and you also, beloved companion of my
banishment," he added, turning towards his wife, who was nearly overcome by
these sudden tidings of joy — "come to my arms — for
we are no longer exiles — we shall once more behold our native
How sweet — how sweet were the caresses
which those three illustrious personages now exchanged: — how
unalloyed was that happiness which they now experienced!
And when they were enabled to compose their feelings so
far as to discourse upon the triumphant result of the Constitutional cause, the
name of Richard Markham was not forgotten!
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