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[-282-]  

CHAPTER XCIII.

NEWS FROM CASTELCICALA.

RETURN we once more to Diana Arlington, who still occupied the splendid mansion in Dover Street, which had been fitted up for her by the Earl of Warrington.
    The routine of the life of the Enchantress continued the same as we have described it in Chapter LI.
    The Earl of Warrington was unremitting in his attention, and unchanged in his liberality towards his beautiful mistress; and, on her part, Diana was the faithful friend and true companion who by her correct conduct maintained the confidence which she had inspired in the heart of her noble protector.
    We must again introduce our readers to the Enchantress at the hour of breakfast, and in the little parlour where we have before seen her.
    But on this occasion, instead of being occupied with the perusal of the Morning Herald, her entire attention was absorbed in the contents of a letter, which ran as follows:-

"Montoni, December 3, 1839.

"I SIT down, my dearest Diana, to inform you that the ceremony of my union with his Serene Highness Angelo III, was solemnized yesterday.
    "You are aware that this ceremony was to have taken place some months ago; but the intrigues of certain persons holding high and influential offices in the state, delayed it. Calumny after calumny against me was whispered in the ears of the Grand Duke; and, although his Highness believed not a word of those evil reports, I steadily refused to accept the honour he was anxious to confer upon me, until he had satisfied himself of the falsity of each successive calumny. At length I implored his Highness to address an autograph letter to the Earl of Warrington, with whom his Highness was acquainted during the residence of that good English nobleman in Castelcicala. His Highness complied with my request, and despatched his letter so privately that none of those who surround him suspected his proceeding. The Earl of Warrington, as you know, dearest Diana. hastened to reply. His answer was so satisfactory, so frank, so generous, so candid, that the Duke declared he would visit with his severest displeasure any one who dared breathe a word of calumny against me or my friends in England, in future.
    "The next step adopted by his Serene Highness was to dismiss the Marquis of Gerrano from the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Baron Ruperto, the Under Secretary in that Department, retired with his superior. The Duke adapted this measure in consequence of the intrigues of those noblemen to thwart his Highness's intentions of raising to the ducal throne the woman whom he loved. You may suppose how grieved - how vexed - how distressed I have been through the conviction that I myself was the cause of these heart burnings, jealousies, and intrigues; and although I was innocently the source of such disagreeable proceedings, my sorrow and annoyance were but little mitigated by this impression. I implored the Grand Duke to allow me to leave the country, and retire to Switzerland; but his Serene Highness remained firm, and assured me that, although he had many difficulties to overcome, he was not disheartened. Then be declared that his entire happiness was centred in me, and he thus over-ruled my scruples.
    "At length the duke remodelled his cabinet (a fact to which I alluded above) by appointing the Count of Friuli (who is deeply attached to His Highness, and favourable to our union) to the Foreign Office, in place of the Marquis of Gerrano. Signor Pisani, another faithful dependant of His Highness, was appointed Under-Secretary in the place of Baron Ruperto. The Minister of War also retired, and was succeeded by General Grachia. When these changes were effected, his Serene Highness communicated to the council of ministers his intention to unite himself to Ellen Marchioness of Ziani on the 2d of December of the present year.
   
"This decision was made known on the 19th of last month. I did not write to communicate the important fact to you, because I was apprehensive of new delays; and as I had already misled you once (though unintentionally on my part) I was unwilling to deceive either you or myself a second time. I know your friendship for me Diana,  - I know that you entertain a sister's love for me, the same that I feel for you, - and I also know that you anxiously watch the progress of my fortunes, as, under similar circumstances, I should yours. I therefore resolved to acquaint you with no more of my hopes, until they should have been realised. That result has now been attained; and I need preserve a cold silence no longer.
    "In the evening of the 19th of November, the Grand Chancellor of Castelcicala, the President of the Council (the Marquis of Vincenza), and the Archbishop of Montoni, visited me at the villa to acquaint me with the royal decision. I endeavoured - and I hope succeeded - to convince their lordships of the profound sense which I entertained of the high honour intended to be conferred upon me, and my conviction that no merit which I possessed could render me worthy of such distinction; at the same time I declared my readiness to accept that honour, since it was the will and pleasure of a sovereign Prince to bestow it upon me.
    I can scarcely tell you the nature of the varied emotions and feelings which filled - indeed agitated - my bosom when the memorable morning dawned. That was yesterday! I awoke at an early - a very early hour - before six, and walked in the garden with the hope that the fresh air and the charming tranquillity of the scene would compose me. I could scarcely believe that I was on the point of entering upon such high destinies; that a diadem was so soon to encircle my brow; that the thrilling words Highness and Princess would in a few hours be addressed to me! I could not reconcile with my former obscure lot the idea that I was shortly to sit upon a sovereign throne [-283-] - command the allegiance of millions of human beings,- and  share the fortunes of a potentate of Europe! Was it possible that I - I who was the daughter of a poor farmer, and who had seen so much of the vicissitudes of life, - I who had thought myself happy with the competence which I enjoyed through the Earl of Warrington's bounty at Clapton. - I who conceived myself to be one of the must fortunate of individuals when, by the goodness of that same excellent peer, I arrived in this State, and took possession of the villa which he had placed at my disposal, - I who had then no more elevated aspirations than to dwell in tranquillity and peace - no loftier hope than to deserve that kind nobleman's benefits by my conduct - was it possible that I was in a few hours to become the Grand Duchess of Castelcicala? I could not fix my mind to such a belief; the idea seemed an oriental fiction - a romantic dream. And yet, I remembered, I had already received an earnest of this splendid promise of fortune; I had already been elevated from a lowly condition to an exalted rank; the distinction of a Marchioness was mine; for months had I been accustomed to the sounding title of Your Ladyship; and for months had I been enrolled amongst the peeresses of Castelcicala. Yes - I thought: it was true, - true that a Prince - a powerful Prince - intended to raise me to a seat upon his own ducal throne!
    "At seven precisely the three lovely daughters of General Grachia arrived at the villa to assist me in my toilette - my nuptial toilette. They informed me that, if it were my pleasure, they were to remain in attendance upon me after my marriage. I embraced them tenderly, and assured them that they should always be near mean friends. When the toilette was completed, I bade adieu to the villa. I wept - wept tears of mingled joy and sorrow as I said farewell to that abode where I had passed so many happy, happy hours At length I entered General Grachia's carriage, which was waiting; and, accompanied by my three amiable friends, repaired to their father's private dwelling (not his official palace of the War Department) in Montoni. 
    "Here my letter must terminate. Enclosed is an account of the entire ceremony, translated into English by my private secretary (who is well acquainted with my native tongue) from the Montoni Gazette. Fain would I have erased those passages which are favourable - too favourable to myself; but I fancied that my friend - my sister Diana would be pleased to read the narrative in its integrity.
    "In conclusion, let me say - and do you believe it as devoutly as I say it sincerely - that, in spite of my rank and fortunes,- in spite of the splendours that surround me, to you I am in heart, and always shall remain, the same attached and grateful being, whom you have known as
            "ELIZA SYDNEY.

It would be impossible to describe the feelings of delight with which Mrs. Arlington perused the latter portion of this letter. Pass we on, therefore, to the Bridal Ceremony, as it was described in the translated narrative which accompanied the communication of the Grand Duchess

"THE MARRIAGE OF THE GRAND DUKE.

"Yesterday morning were celebrated the nuptials of his Serene Highness Angelo III. and Eliza Marchioness of Ziani.
    "From an early hour the capital wore an appearance of unusual gaiety and bustle. The houses looking on the Piazzetta of Contarini, leading to the ancient Cathedral of Saint Theodosia, were decorated in a most splendid manner with banners, garlands, festoons of flowers, and various ornaments and devices appropriate to the occasion. The balconies were fitted up as verdant bowers and arbours, and the lovely characteristics of the country were thus introduced into the very heart of the city. The Town- Hall was hung with numerous banners; and the royal standard waved proudly over the Black Tower of the Citadel. The shops in those streets through which the procession was to pass were fitted up with seats which were let to those who were willing to pay the high prices demanded for them. In other parts of the city the shops and marts of trade were all closed, as was the Exchange. A holiday was observed at the Bank of Castelcicala; and the business of the General Post Office closed at eleven o'clock in the forenoon. Nor was the port less gay than the city. All the vessels in the harbour and docks, as well as those in the roadstead, were decked with innumerable flags. The royal standard floated from the main of the ships of war of the Castelcicalan navy. The sight was altogether most imposing and lively.
    At seven o'clock the bells of Saint Theodosia and all the other churches in Montoni rang out merry peals and the troops of the garrison got under arms. At a quarter before eight the Mayor and Corporation of the city, arrayed in their robes of green velvet edged with gold, proceeded to the palace and presented an address of congratulation on the auspicious day, to his Serene Highness, who was pleased to return a most gracious answer. It being generally understood that the Marchioness of Ziani would in the first instance alight at the dwelling of General Grachia, the Minister of War, a crowd of highly respectable and well-dressed persons had collected in that neighbourhood. At nine o'clock the General's private carriage, which had been sent to convey the future Grand Duchess from her own abode to the General's mansion, drove rapidly up the street. attended by' two outriders. We shall never forget the enthusiasm manifested by the assembled multitude upon that occasion. All political feelings appeared to be forgotten ;and a loud, hearty, and prolonged burst of welcome met the ear. The object of this ebullition of generous feeling bowed gracefully to the crowds on either side; and the cheering continued for some moments after the carriage had entered the court-yard of the General's mansion.
    "At half-past ten o'clock the President of the Council, the Grand Chancellor, and the Intendant of the Ducal Civil List arrived in their carriages at General Grachia's abode, preceded by one of the royal equipages, which was sent to convey the bride and her ladies-in-waiting to the palace. In a few minutes the President of the Council handed the bride, who was attended by the lady and three lovely daughters of General Grachia, into the decal carriage. The procession then repaired to the palace, the crowds that lined the streets and occupied the windows and balconies by which it passed, expressing their feelings by cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs. To these demonstrations the bride responded by graceful bows, bestowed in a manner so modest and yet evidently sincere, that the conduct of this exalted lady upon the occasion won all hearts.
    "The procession entered the palace-square; and the Grand Duke, attended by the great officers of state and a brilliant staff, received his Intended bride at the foot of the great marble staircase of the western pavilion. The illustrious company then entered the palace. Immediately afterwards the five regiments of household troops, commanded by that noble veteran the Marshal Count of Galeazzo, marched into the square, and formed into three lines along the western side of the palace. At half-past eleven the royal party appeared at the foot of the marble staircase, and entered the numerous carriages in waiting. The bride occupied the carriage which had conveyed her to the palace, and was accompanied by the ladies in attendance upon her. His Serene Highness, attended by the President of the Council and the Grand Chancellor, entered the state carriage. The procession then moved onwards to the Cathedral of Saint Theodosia.
    "This was the signal for the roar of artillery from all points. The citadel, and the ships of war in the roadstead thundered forth the announcement that His Serene Highness had just left the palace. The bells rang blithely from every steeple; the troops presented arms; the  military bands played the national hymn; and the procession was welcomed with joyous shouts, the waving of handkerchiefs, and the smiles of beauty. The windows and balconies of the houses overlooking the streets through which it passed, were crowded with elegantly dressed ladies, brilliant with their own beauty, gay with waving plumes, and sparkling with diamonds. The only indication of political feeling which we observed upon the occasion, was on the part of the troops; and they were silent.
    "The bride was naturally the centre of all interest and attraction, Every one was anxious to catch a glimpse of her charming countenance. And certainly this lovely lady never could have appeared more lovely than on the present occasion. She was attired in a dress of the moat costly point-lace over white satin. Her veil was of the first-mentioned material, and of the richest description. She was somewhat pale; but a charming serenity was depicted upon her countenance. She bowed frequently, and in the most unpretending and affable manner, as the procession moved along.
    "At length the cavalcade reached the cathedral, where the Archbishop of Montoni, assisted by the Bishops of Trevisano and Collato, was in attendance to perform the solemn ceremony. The sacred edifice was thronged by the elite and fashion of the capital, who had been admitted by tickets. When the royal party had entered the Cathedral, the doors were closed; and the holy ceremony was solemnized. The roar of the artillery was again heard, as the royal party returned to their carriages. This time the Grand Duchess was handed by his Serene Highness into the state carriage. The return to the palace was distinguished by demonstrations of satisfaction on the part of the spectators more enthusiastic, if possible, than those which marked the progress of the cavalcade to the cathedral. A glow of animation was visible upon the countenance of her Serene Highness; and the Grand Duke himself [-284-] looked remarkably well and cheerful. In a short time the Sovereign conducted his lovely bride into that palaces which in future is to be her home.
    Thus ended a ceremony which, in a political point of view, may probably be attended with important results to the interests of Castelcicala. Should male issue proceed from this marriage, the contentions of rival parties in the state will be at once annihilated. The supporters of the Prince of Castelcicala, who is now an exile in England, are naturally indignant and annoyed at the marriage of his Serene highness Angelo III with a lady young enough to encourage hopes that the union may not remain unfruitful. It is even evident that many of the former friends of the exiled Prince pronounced in favour of this marriage, the moment it was contemplated some months previously to its solemnization. This sentiment of approval will account for the entrance of General Grachia, who was notorious for his adhesion to the popular cause espoused by the Prince, into the Ministry. Probably the best friends of their country, aware that it was neither natural nor legal to attempt to control the inclinations and affections of his Serene Highness Angelo III., looked upon this marriage as the best means of securing peace and internal tranquillity to Castelcicala, inasmuch as it gives a prospect of an heir to the ducal throne - an heir whose right and title none could dispute. This is the view we ourselves take of the case, and we therefore hail the event as one of a most auspicious nature in our annals."

    Scarcely had the Enchantress terminated this narrative of the ceremony which elevated her friend to a ducal throne, - a narrative which she had perused with the liveliest feelings of satisfaction, and the most unadulterated pleasure - when the Earl of Warrington was announced.
    Diana hastened to communicate to him the tidings which she had received; and the nobleman himself read Eliza's letter, and the extract from the Montoni Gazette, with an interest which showed how gratified he felt in the high and exalted fortunes of the daughter of her whom he had once loved so tenderly.
    "Yes, indeed," said the earl, when be had terminated the perusal of the two documents, "Eliza Sydney now ranks amongst the queens and reigning princesses of the world: from a humble cottage she has risen to a throne."
    "And this exalted station she owes to your lordship's goodness," remarked Diana.
   
" Say to my justice,'' observed the earl; "for I may flatter myself that I have behaved with justice to the child of my departed uncle's daughter. And this remarkable exaltation of Eliza Sydney shows us, Diana, that we should never judge of a person's character by one fault. Eliza has always been imbued with sentiments of virtue and integrity, although she was led into one error by that villain Stephens; and she has now met with a reward of a price high almost beyond precedent. But, ah!" exclaimed the earl, who was carelessly turning the letter of the Grand Duchess over and over in his hands as he spoke, "this is very singular - very remarkable;"- and he inspected the seal and postmarks of the letter with minute attention.
    "What is the matter ?" inquired Diana.
    "Some treachery has been perpetrated here," answered the earl, still continuing his scrutiny: "this letter had been opened before it was delivered to you."
    "Opened!" cried Diana.
    "Yes," said the Earl of Warrington; "here is every proof that the letter has been violated. See - there is the English post-mark of yesterday morning; and over it has been stamped another mark, of this morning's date. Then contemplate the seal. There are two kinds of wax, the one melted over the other: do you not notice a shade different in their colours?"
    "Certainly," said Diana: "it is apparent. But who could have done this? Perhaps the Grand Duchess herself; for the ducal arms are imprinted upon the upper layer of wax."
    "The persons who opened this letter, Diana, said the earl, in a serious - almost a solemn tone., "are those who know full well how to take the imprint of a seal. But have you not other letters from Castelcicala?"
    "Several," replied Diana; and she hastily unlocked her writing-desk, where she produced all the correspondence she had received from Eliza Sydney.
    The earl carefully inspected the envelopes of those letters; and his countenance grew more serious as he proceeded with his scrutiny.
    "Yes," he exclaimed, after a long pause; "the fact is glaring! Every one of these letters was opened somewhere ere they were delivered to you. The utmost caution has been evidently used in re-sealing and re-stamping them ; - nevertheless, there are proofs - undoubted proofs - that the whole of this correspondence has been violated in its transit from the writer to the receiver."
    "But what object - what motive —"
   
"I have long entertained suspicions," said the Earl of Warrington, interrupting his fair mistress, "that there is one public institution in England which is made the scene of proceedings so vile - so detestable - so base as to cast a stain upon the entire nation. Those suspicions are now confirmed."
    "What mean you?" inquired Diana: "to which institution do you allude?"
   
"To the General Post-office," replied the Earl of Warrington.
    "The General Post-office!" cried Mrs. Arlington, her countenance expressing the most profound astonishment.
    "The General Post-office," repeated the earl. "But this is a matter of so serious a nature that I shall not allow it to rest here. You will lend me these letters for a few hours? I am more intimately acquainted with the Home Secretary than with any other of her Majesty's Ministers; and to him will I now proceed."
    The earl consigned the letters to his pocket, and, with an air of deep determination, took a temporary leave of Mrs. Arlington.
    Scarcely had the earl left the house, when Mr. Greenwood's valet, Filippo, was introduced.
    "I have called, madam," said the Italian, " to inform you that I last night counteracted another of my master's plots, and saved a young female from the persecution of his addresses."
    "You have done well, Filippo," exclaimed Mrs. Arlington. "Does your master suspect you?"
    "Not in the remotest degree, madam. I contrived matters so well, that he believed the young person alluded to had escaped by her own means, and without any assistance, save that of a pair of sheets which enabled her to descend in safety from the window of the room in which she was confined."
    "I am delighted to hear that your mission to England has been so successful, in thwarting the machinations of that bad man," observed Mrs. Arlington. "Have you heard any news from Castelcicala ?"
    "I have this morning received a Montoni newspaper, announcing the nuptials of the Grand Duke and the Marchioness of Ziani," replied Filippo.
   
"And I also have heard those happy tidings," said Mrs. Arlington. "But have you any farther information to give me relative to the schemes of your master? I am always pleased to learn that a his evil designs experience defeat through your agency."
    [-285-] "I have nothing more to say at present, madam," answered Filippo; "except, indeed," he added, suddenly recollecting himself, "that I overheard, a few days ago, a warm contention between my master and a certain Sir Rupert Harborough."
    "Sir Rupert Harborough!" ejaculated Diana, a blush suddenly overspreading her cheeks.
    "Yes, madam. From what I could learn, there was a balance of about a thousand pounds due from Sir Rupert Harborough to Mr. Greenwood, on a bill that purported to be the acceptance of Lord Tremordyn, but which was in reality a forgery committed by Sir Rupert himself."
   
"A forgery!" cried Diana.
    "A forgery, madam. Sir Rupert bitterly reproached Mr. Greenwood with having suggested to him that mode of raising money, whereas Mr. Greenwood appeared to deny with indignation any share in the part of the transaction imputed to him. The matter ended by Mr. Greenwood declaring that if the bill were not paid to-morrow, when it falls due (having, it appears, been renewed several times), Sir Rupert Harborough should be prosecuted for forgery."
    "And what said Sir Rupert Harborough to that?" inquired Diana.
    "He changed his tone, and began to implore the mercy of Mr. Greenwood: but my master was inexorable; and Sir Rupert left the house with ruin and terror depicted upon his countenance."
    "This battle you must allow them to fight out between themselves," said Diana, after a moment's hesitation. " I know Sir Rupert Harborough - know him full well; but I do not think that he is so thoroughly black-hearted as your master. He was once kind to me - once," she added, musing to herself rather than addressing the Italian valet : then, suddenly recollecting herself, she said, " However, Filippo - that affair does not regard you."
    "Very good, madam," replied the valet; and he then took his departure.
    The moment he was gone, Mrs. Arlington threw herself into her comfortable arm-chair, and became wrapt up  in deep thought.

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