M. G. (Matthew Gregory) Lewis.

Feudal tyrants; or, The Counts of Carlsheim and Sargans. A romance (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryM. G. (Matthew Gregory) LewisFeudal tyrants; or, The Counts of Carlsheim and Sargans. A romance (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 10)
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So that as I now began to feel easy
respecting his professions of too warm
an attachment, and in this moment of
most urgent necessity, when our terrible
2 foe



275-

foe was at our gates, and as every one
had recourse to me for that advice,
which I, poor trembling woman, would
so willingly have asked of others ; in
such a situation, helpless and bewildered
as I was, I did nor think it wise to reject
without an hearing the proposition,
which the Abbot of Curwald requested,
leave to lay before me, and whose adop-
tion (he said) would be gready for my
advantage. It proved to be of a nature
so innocent, that ill as I thought of the
person who proposed it, I could find no^
reasonable grounds for its rejection.

— " There are few hearts," said
Guiderius, " so hardened as to resist the
tears which fiow from the eyes of wo-
men, or the voice of God when it speaks
from the lips of his servants. I am tho-
N Q roughly



276

roughly persuaded, that Count Donates
fury would be this moment disarmed,
could he witness the streams of anguish,
which fear of his vengeance forces into-
eyes so bright ; nor did he once see you
kneeling at his feet, could he resist
raising you, to fall himself at yours. But
you are unconscious of the power which
Heaven confided to you, when he formed
you so lovely ; or knowing it, you will
not condescend to make it of use. Well
then ! Let us have recourse to some
other means of softening Count Donat.
Permit me to assemble the whole bro-
therhood of niy convent in the Castlc-
ehapel : these holy monks shall form
around you with their prayers a wall
jnore sohd than one of brass ; as soon
as your dreaded foe approaches,! will

plaire



277

place myself at their head, go forthwith
them to meet him, command him in
the name of our patron-saint to lay-
aside his blood-thirsty designs, and you
will be astonished to witness the effects
of our interference." —

1 consented to liis proposal. Guide-
rius gave his orders ; and it was not
long before the holy monks (no one but
their Abbot could have had the assurance
to call them holy) set forth on their
march with all possible solemnity, and
with every circumstance of pomp, which
might make them appear of the more
consequence in the eyes of him, to whom
tlieir embassy was addrest. They laid
no slight stress upon the merit of this
act of heroism, as they scrupled not to
call their interference ; and one of the

most



278

most learned brethren went so far, as to
compare their conduct with that of the
Roman Deeii, who for the general good
devoted themselves to the infernal gods ;
a comparison, which would have extor-
ted a smile from Minna and myself, had
any thing at that moment of danger been
capable of making us smile.

We waited for the return of these
modern Deeii with inexpressible anxiety.
Yet unhappy as we were, and much as
we required all our strength of mind
and body to support ourselves^ we were
compelled to exhaust our powers in the
difficult task of preventing Ethelbert
from sinking under his apprehensions of
his foe's approach, which he dreaded, as
if it had been that of an avenging Deity,

During the consultation, whicli took

place



279

place on the proposition of Guiderius^
we had been necessitated to leave the
wretched sufferer to himself. After the
departure of the monks, we found hini
to our great astonishment busied in re-
moving the stone, which covered the
mouth of that well, v/hich I have al-
ready mentioned as being so terrible to
him in his hours of distraction. A
variety of circumstances, as well as some
broken sentences, which at first escaped
from him, left us no doubt, with what
object he had sought that particular
spot, and what would have been the
event, had we not arrived in time to
rescue him from his own fury.

In the situation in which he then
was, it was unsafe for us to suffer him
out of our sight for a moment. We

employed



280

employed all our powers of persuasion
to che Ms agitated mind; Minna,
\vii03e kind and gentle manner had
great infiuence over him, at length suc-
ceeded in kindling a faint spark of hope
in hio anxious bosom ; and he seemed
to derive some xomfort from her assur-
ances, that (even should Count Donat
prove the furious tyrant, whkh report
described him to be) ' still it was
impossible for him to have so totally
laid aside all vestiges of humanity, as to
look on his father as on a foe, and punish
him for ofiences,^ which it was now be-
yond his power to remedy.

— " You are right, sweet angel !" said
Ethelbert with a childish vacant smile,
which generally took possession of his
countenance, when he felt himself ex-
hausted



281

liausted by any violent breaking out of
his delirium ; " you are quite right !
Donat should not revenge his mother^s
death on 7ne ; I never hated Lucretia ;
no, no ; she was my first love. Its true,
I was unfaithful to her ; but though
Urania was more beautiful and rich,
that could only have injured Lucretia
for a while. Had but death relieved
me from my second wife, nothing need
have prevented my restoring my first to
liberty, and permitting her to resume
her legal rights ! then all would have
l)een well; then Lucretia and Donat
would have been appeased : fool that I
was I Oh ! that I had not suffered Ura-
nia to live 1" —

The pious Minna shrunk back in hor-
ror at this proof of aggravated wicked-



282

ness, which she had undesignedly drawn
from an heart, whose sentiments (I had
SO vainly flattered myself) had been
chastened by adversity. Minna dropt
the miscreant's hand in disgust, while
she cast upon me a look expressive of
the deepest sorrow and compassion ; I
could not restrain my feelings, and burst
into a flood of tears.

— ^ Nay, weep not 1" said the wretch^
ed man, whose senses had quite forsaken
him 5 '' trust me with a dagger for a
few minutes, and neither you nor I shall
have reason any longer to tremble at
the thoughts of Donat's vengeance I" —

This conversation, which became
more painful with every minute that it
lasted, and which was only calculated
to make two unprotected women appre-

hend



283

hend a nearer danger than Count Donat's ^
sword, was interrupted by the return of
two of the monks, who had accompa-
nied Guiderius. They accosted us with
countenances expressing the greatest
consternation, and gave us to under-
stand, that the eloquence of their holy
brethren had by no means produced the
desired effect. Count Donat, an avowed
enemy of the church and her servants,
had ordered them all to be made pri-
soners, and flight alone had enabled
these two to hasten back to the Castle,
and apply to us for assistance.

— " For assistance? assistance from
us ?" Minna and myself exclaimed at
the same moment.

— " Yes, noble ladies, from you T'
answered one of the monks, whose

name



284

name was Hiideric ; " a sign from our
discreet Abbot gave us to understand,
what steps he wished to be taken. H^
is certain, tliat the intercession of the
Damsel of Mayenfieid, one tear falling
from her dove-like eyes, one word
spoken in her touching voice, would be
sufficient to preserve us all t Oh ! dear
lady, be not deaf to our entreaties I A
mule stands ready at the Castle-gate to
bear you to the camp, and we will ac-
company you thither, and protect you
back in safety." —

— " Oh ! for the love of Heaven,'^
exclain^ed my husband eagerly, " go,
Minna, go! Soften my son's heart
towards his wretched father, and I will
bless you with my latest breath." —

Minna shuddered, while she listened

to



285

to Hilderic's proposal and Ethelbert's
entreaties: nor did I hear this singular
request without making many objec-
tions. Yet Hilderic's powers of persua-
sion, and the humble supplications of
his companion-, the unsuspicious Mark,
began to make us relax in our opposition,
when the Abbot himself made his ap»
pearance, and decided our conduct at
once.

— " If it is your intention to preserve
us," said he, addressing himself to Min-
na, *" hasten to the camp, ere it is yet
too late ! Under our safe-guard you
cannot have any danger to apprehend,
and in the few minutes, which I passed
with him, I took care to make your situ-
ation so well known to Count Donat,
that you need not fear, lest the power

of



'286

of your charms should produce an efTcct
on his heart prejudicial to the rights of
your destined husband/' —

These assurances Guiderius failed not
to strengthen with a variety of others ;
Hilderic also exerted all his eloquence in
support of his superior ; and their joint
efforts were so successful, that Minna
was obliged to give a promise to follow
them to the camp.

What line of conduct was it now most
proper for me to adopt ? My ideas were
too confused, my apprehensions too
painful, to admit of my observing a thou-
sand contradictions in the Abbot's state-
ment, a thousand trifling circumstances
indicating some concealed design, which
could not have failed to strike any in-
different person. Besides, as Minna

had



287

had now promised to accompany the
monks, it seemed impossible that I
should suffer her to set out without the
sanction of a female's presence, and ex-
pose her beauty and innocence to the
perils, which threatened them in Count
Donat's camp. It was equally impossi-
ble for me to leave my poor weak hus-
band to himself, and resign him to the
dangerous caprices of his delirium, which
during our absence would most probably
return. Yet my blood ran cold at the
idea of remaining alone in the power of
a desperate man, who had so lately de-
clared his intentions to destroy me ;
intentions, which in his frenzy he would
find but little difficulty in carrying into
effect. Part of our adherents had al-
ready hastened to the camp, in hopes of

avoiding



2SS

avoiding Count Donat's vengeance by a
voluntary surrender ; the rest of them
had either betaken themselves to flight,
or had sought various places of conceal-
ment, till the first storm should have
subsided. After Minna's departure 1
should be left quite alone with the frantic
Ethelbert. I knew not what to resolve,
and yet it was necessary to resolve on
something without delay.

At length it was settled, that accom-
panied by the fathers Mark and Hilderic
I should set forward with Minna, and
threw myself at the feet of our enemy.
In the mean while the Abbot consented
to w^atch over my husband's actions ; a
consent,which he seemed to give with evi-
dent reluctance, though the great influ-
ence which he possest over the maniac's

mind



289

mind pointed him out as well suited for
the employment.

We proceeded slowly, as those are ac-
customed to do, whose road conducts
them to certain sorrow. The learned
Hilderic endeavoured to inspire the
trembling Minna with confidence, for
which purpose he vainly exhausted
every argument of consolation, which
religion or philosophy could furnish.
In the mean while, I was busied in trying
to draw such information out of the
simple Mark, as might confirm either
my hopes, or my apprehensions. This
man, both in conduct and inclinations,
was in truth the best among the brother-
hood of Cloister-Curwald ; but his per-
ception was so limited, that the world

voL^ I. o might



290

might have perished, without his having
the least suspicion of such an event tak-
ing place, or being able to give the least
account of it after it had happened. All
that he could produce to satisfy me, were
repeated assurances, that he believed the
step which we were taking to be right
and prudent ; but as to what had past
between Guiderius and Count Donat, or
what reception we might reasonably
expect from the latter, I found that
father Mark was no less ignorant than
myself.

We drew near the conqueror's tent.
My heart beat violently : what was I to
expect from one, who had sworn to
sacrifice me to the manes of his mother !
I endeavoured to muster up all my reso-
lution ;



291

lution j I threw back my veil, and fol-
lowed with desperate courage, whither
the Monks conducted us. Count Donat
stood before me. I threw myself at his
feet, and strove to comprise in one im-
plormg look all that I wished to ask of
him, but which terror prevented me
from expressing in words.

Donat's piercing eyes dwelt for some
mom.ents on my face in silence. He then
turned to one of the Friars of Curwald
who stood behind him, and asked, " if
this was the person, whose beauty he
had heard him praise so highly ?"
' — " That is Urania Venosta," an-
swered the Monk, " Countess of Carl-
sheim and Sargans.*' —

Instantly the expression of Donat's
o 2 features



292

features changed, and the look of satis-
faction,which they had worn at first, was
replaced by that of aversion. He turned ^
from me without speaking, and ad-
tranced to receive Minna, who approach-
ing slowly raised her veil, and sank on
her knees before him with that inex-
pressible grace, which accompanied even
the most trifling of her actions*

—"Mercy! mercy!*' she exclaimed,
while she extended towards him her
hands clasped in supplication ; " mercy
for the helpless and the innocent ! Is
it possible, that the victorious Donat
should stain the glory of his sword, by
directing it against trembling women,
against an infirm father, against a people
who willingly subnoit themselves to
1 his



293

his power? Oh! be that far from

him !"—

Donat drew back a few steps, and
gazed on her with a look, in which we
endeavoured vainly to read the senti-
ments of his bosom. No one could
guess from it, whether he suffered the
fair suppliant to remain kneelingthrough
forgetfulness of every thing but her
beauty, or from feeling the same con-
tempt for her entreaties, with which
he had treated mine.

— " R?se !*' said he at length in
a stern voice, but whose sternness
was evidently assumed j '* who are
you ?"—

— " Minna of Mayenfield."—

— " And your companion ?" he re-
sumed, pointing to me.

o 3 — -" Urania



294

— '^ Urania Venosta, my adopted
mother, and the wife of your father,
of your father who shudders at your ap-
proach \ Oh ! Donat, think how dread-
ful it is to be the cause of terror to a
repentant father I — Mercy, Donat ! Oh !
mercy for us all !'* —

Donat raised the imploring girl with-
out replying ; he also motioned to me
to quit ray kneeling posture, and then
ordered his attendants to conduct us
into another tent.

Towards evening he visited us, and
gave that answer in person, which w^e
had vainly solicited in the morning.
Now that he had laid aside his threaten-
ing casque and blood-stained armour,
he appeared to be entirely a different

person.



295

person. Tiis manner was respectful to
Minna, courteous to me. He men-
tioned his father in terms rather of grief
than anger ; Lucretia's name, (which,
as we had been informed, used to be
constantly on his lips) was not pro-
nounced by him j and in the course of
conversation he once so far forgot
his wrath, as to m.ention me by the title
of "his mother." —

— " Oh ! rejoice with me, dear Min-
na," I exclaimed, while I prest the
Damsel of Mayenfield to my bosom ;
" it is now certain, that we are safe !
Heard you not, that Count Donat called
me mother ? See'st thou in him that
terrific conqueror, such as report de-
scribed him ? Oh ! that Ethelbert were
o 4 but



296

but here to know, and love the real cha»^
racter of his so dreaded son : all would
be pardoued, all forgotten !"

— " That is possible," answered Do-
nat, who could not help smiling at the
unrestrained expression of my feelings ;
" the only person who has anything to
pardon is myself ; and I cannot deny
that beauty like Urania's may well ex-
cuse an act of injustice, even though it
should be monstrous as that, which was
suffered by the poor Lucretia !" —

We saw, that at the recollection of
Lucretia a cloud seemed to pass over
Donates countenance, though it soon
disappeared again. We therefore lost
no time in mentioning to him the only
request about which we were now

anxious.



297

anxious, fearful lest he should alter his
good dispositions towards us, before
they had produced the effect which was
so earnestly desired.

We entreated him to suffer us to
return to his anxious father, and inform
him, how unjustly he had doubted his
son's filial affection. Donat hesitated,
and inquired, why we were desirous of
leaving him in such haste ? — Besides our
wish to relieve Count Ethelbert from his
apprehensions without loss of time, we
alledged as an excuse the impropriety of
our remaining in a camp without any
other females.

— " Oh !" replied Donat, " this last

reason can be none for your departure j

and if you have no better, I fiatter my-

5 self,



298

self, that I shall not lose your company,
till after I have been presented by you
to-morrow to my long-estranged father
in the Castle of Sargans. You are not
the only ladies in my camp ; I have a wife
and sister with me, who will be delighted
to welcome you, and who (to confess
the truth) pleaded with me in your
behalf most urgently, ere I was yet de-
cided, what answer I should make to
your request." —

It is impossible to express the various
causes of satisfaction, which we disco-
vered in these few words. It is no
trifling comfort for bashful timid wo-
men to meet with persons of their own
sex in a place, where they expected to
fmd only rude turbulent soldiers 5 and
2 here



299

here we found two benevolent beings,
whose kind hearts had already induced
them even without knowing us to in-
terest themselves in our behalf. But
that which above all seemed music to
my ear, was the information, that one
of these unknown ladies was Count
Donat's wife. In the course of our
conversation, our conqueror's eyes had
frequently dwelt on Minna's face with
an expression by no means equivocal ;
I v/as strongly inclined to attribute his
unexpected lenity entirely to my com-
panion's charms. Minna vyas the be-
trothed of another. Donat was a ty-
rant. My heart foreboded from these
circumstances a long succession of dilH-
cuities and dangers ; all of which were ■
Q Q banished



i, 300

banished as phantoms existing only in
my imagination, as soon as I understood,
that Donat was already married, and that
he hesitated not to place the young crea-
ture, whom he looked upon with so
much interest, under the protection of
his wife*

We were presented to tlie ladies, who
composed Count Donat's family. We
were graciously received : yet we could
not help remarking, that the behaviour
of the young Countess of Carlsheim ra-
ther exprest that condescension which is
only used with inferiors, than the friendly
openness which marked our reception
by Count Donat's sister, who was made
known to us by the name of Adelaide,
Lady of the Beacon-Tower.

Besides



301 Hj

Besides this, it must be eonfest that
the appearance of the Countess Mellu-
sina (such was the name of Donat's
wife) WaS by no means such, as preju-
diced us in her favour. The best that
could be said of her, was that she was
not ugly ; and the haughty manners,
which she thought proper to assume,
were but ill calculated to make her per-
son appear to advantage. — Oh! how
different was Mellusina from the
interesting Lady of the Beacon-
Tower !

— " Can this lovely woman," I said
to Minna, as soon as we were left alone,
" can she be Lucretia's daughter, and
the sister of Count Donat ? I vainly
endeavoured to find in that heavenly

coun-



302

countenance a single feature, which re-
sembled her nearest relations.'* —

Minna however maintained, that she
could discover a strong likeness to Count
Donat ; we at length determined, that
early misfortune had extinguished the
brilliant fire of Lucretia's eyes, which
(on further reflection I was compelled to
own) had descended to her daughter ;
and also that female delicacy prevented
her superior stature and commanding
make (in both of which she was her
brother's very counterpart) from inspir-
ing that terrific awe, which at sight of
Count Donat made every beholder's
heart tremble.

The night, which succeeded a day, in
which we had gone through so much,

and



303

and with success so unexpected, was
past In a state of no trifling anxiety.
Finding ourselves obliged to accept the
invitation prest upon us most earnestly
by Count Donat and the ladies (to re-
main with them till the next morning,
when the camp would be raised) we
entreated, that at least a messenger might
be despatched to assure Ethelbert, that
his fears were without foundation.
Adelaide lost no time in causing Mark
and Hilderic to hasten back to the Castle,
and relieve the Abbot from the diificult
task of watching over the actions of a
man, who was by no means fit to be
trusted with himself ; they were also
commissioned to request Guiderius to
return without delay to the camp, and

inform



S04

inform us, in what manner our absence
had affected the unfortunate Count of
Carlshehn.

Gladly would Adelaide have accom-
panied the Friars, and thrown herself at
the feet of her wretched father, whom
she had never seen. Her brother how-
ever did not think proper to permit
her departure ; and she now shared in
our uneasiness at perceiving, that one
hour after another stole away without
the arrival of any intelligence from the
Castle.

Yet great as was my own anxiety. It
was evidently far inferior to Adelaide's.
Her evident agitation was so excessive,
that I found some difficulty in ascribing
it entirely to the interest, which she felt

about



S05

about a father, whom she had never
seen, and for whom she had nothing to
fear, since his fate depended on her
brother. She had suddenly left the
tent during supper without taking leave
of us : it was already past midnight ;
when, guiding her steps with a dark
lanthorn, we saw her return, under
the pretence of paying us those compli-
ments of the night, which she had before
omitted, and of talking over with us
undisturbed the circumstances of our
mutual inquietude. But it was clear,
that she had not yet mentioned all her
motives for visiting us at this unusual
hour. Somewhat lay concealed in her
heart, which she longed to reveal ; un-
luckily she delayed the wislied disclo-
sure.



306

sure, till the opportunity was lost. The
curtain, which closed our tent, was sud-
denly withdrawn, and Mellusina en-
tered.

While her manner gave us to under-
stand, that her presence was an honour
which she bestowed on us extremely
against her own inclination, she
entreated permission to share our
nocturnal conference. Adelaide in-
quired with her accustomed gentle-
ness, why her dear sister should think
it necessary to deprive herself of her
night's repose?

— " You have not the same cause
that we have," said she, " to watch
away the melancholy hours ; sleep is
not banished from your eyes, by anxiety

for



307

for the fate of an husband and a father,
and by those foreboding fears of some
misfortune having befallen him, which
the long delay of our messenger must
needs excite." —

— " Whatever may be the reason/'
answered the Countess coldly, " I found
it impossible to sleep. The glimmering
of your lamp attracted me hither, and

I was much surprised much

rejoiced, I meant to say, .... at finding
that you^ Adelaide, had arrived here
before me !** —

Good heavens ! how is it possible for
any being possest of common feeling,
to intrude into a circle without any
other object, than disturbing the plea-
sure of those who are already assem-
bled!



308

bled ! Mellusma's situation must have
been as unpleasant to herself, as her
presence was to us. She resisted with
difficulty her inclination to slumber j
and on the other hand, we suffered
under the most torturing impatience to
see her either departing, or asleep. It
was more evident with every moment,
that matters of the utmost importance
floated upon the lips of Adelaide, and
we waited with inexpressible anxiety
for the moment, when she would be at
liberty to disclose them.

Thus did we mutually torment each
other during more than half the night ;
when suddenly we were startled by a
circumstance, at once the most unac-
countable and the most impossible for

me



309

me to forget. It was almost morn-
ing. We were all silent, for we had
long exhausted the few uninteresting
topics, on which we could converse
with Mellusina.

Adelaide had already made two or
three movements, as if she would have
taken leave of us, and yet could not


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