M. G. (Matthew Gregory) Lewis.

Feudal tyrants; or, The Counts of Carlsheim and Sargans. A romance (Volume 4) online

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compose h^ agitated spirits, and assur-
ing her, that she might rely upon
meeting from him with none but the
most honourable treatment.

Ida, equally overcome with mental

and bodily fatigue, sank into a state of

unconsciousness and stupor, which the

sentinels who were appointed to guard

1 the


the entrance of her tent (and who
from time to time looked in upon their
charge) interpreted to be a tranquil
sleep, and failed not to bring this
welcome intelligence to their captains-
He received it with the highest satis-
faction, hailed this refreshing slumber
as the first step towards the restoration
of tranquillity, doubted not .that he
should find Ida more composed and
resigned to her fate on his evening
visit, and found her almost frantic
through despair*

The peremptory manner in which
Ida rejected his adresses, and the little
progress which he made in reconciling
her to her present ^situation, grieved
the robber-chief to the very heart, but
did not excite his indignation. He
continued to treat her with the utmost
G 6 respect


respect and attention. Nothing was
denied her except liberty ; and Randolf
(for that was the name of the enamour-
ed outlaw) carried his politeness and
deference so far, that he never even
presumed to enter her tent without
having previously obtained her per-

Ida, whose presence of mind gradu-
ally returned, and who became collected
enough to reflect on the best means of
conducting herself in such diiEcult cir-
cumstances, could not but feel, that
such attention on the part of Randolf
required some return on hers. She
was totally in his power ; it was unw ise
to exasperate him ; and she therefore
judged it prudent to allow him permis-
sion to pay her a daily visit of an hour,
since she feared with reason, that with-


J 133

out this voluntary concession he might
be induced to allow himself greater
liberties without asking her leave.

— " May I, lady," said he one
morning, after she had past some days
in his power ; " may I request permis-
sion to present to you one of my
friends, who holds in this society the
next place to myself? — he is a noble-
man, whom misfortunes have compelled
like me to adopt a mode of Ufe, which
we both look upon with abhorrence,
and which with the first opportunity
we are determined to exchange for one
more honourable." —

Ida was sufficiently aware, that the
opportunity to which he alluded, was
the possession of her hand, by which
he hoped to give himself a claim to
the Count of Torrenburg's rich inheri-


tance. He frequently in conversation
threw out hints of this nature, but
which she judged it most wise to let
pass without observation. She now
only answered that part of his speech^
which regarded the introduction of his
friend, and to which (as she feared to
irritate her jailor by a refusal) she gave
an unwilling consent.

On his next visit he was accom-
panied by a man, whose countenance
was much more wild and his manners
much less prepossessing, than those of
Randolf. The latter presented the new
visitor by the name of Sir Gero of

The captive soon understood from
the conversation, which past between
the associates, that the antipathy, which
Gero's first appearance had excited in



her bosom, had not been excited with-
out good grounds. He possest not the
smallest share of that delicacy and
respectful attention, by which her lover
was characterized. He permitted him-
self to make the most licentious and
offensive observations upon the extra-
ordinary charms of her person, and
raised her original disgust to abhorrence
by blaming Randolf for having suffered
his passion to remain so long ungrati-
fied; assuring him at the same time,
that he would have dealt far differently
with his own lovely mistress, had not
her religious habit terrified him from
using force, and thereby drawing down
the vengeance of offended Heaven. —
For it seems, this wretch, though he
trampled upon all laws human and
divine, was still a slave to the grossest



superstision, and trembled at the very
sight of a veil or a rosary.

— ^^ She has now been some days in
your possession," observed Randolf;
" have you made any progress with the
fair Nun ?" —

" Not I !" replied Gero ; " she is a
miracle of beauty, its true, but her
obstinacy equals her charms. Since the
day that I captured her on the road to
Zurich, I have been able to obtain
nothing from her but tears and entreaties
for her liberty : and as to proceeding
to violence, I am too much afraid of
the resentment of holy mother church,
or I should put an end to her resistance
before to-morrow morning." —

Durins: this conversation Ida remained
silent, and abandoned herself to the
melancholy reflections excited by the



increased consciousness of the execrable
society, of which she was so unfortu-
nately become a member. But now
when she found that she had a com-
panion in misfortune, and that a person
of her own sex (a virtuous and perse-
cuted Nun) was so near her, a senti-
ment of secret satisfaction and hope
infused itself into her bosom.

— " Oh ! Sir Knight," she exclaimed,
addressing herself to Randolf, " how
happy would you make me, could you but
procure for me the company of Sir Gero's
captive ! it is disgraceful, it is dreadful,
for a young maiden to be alone in a
society entirely composed of men and
strangers ; and I feel, that the presence
of a person of my own sex would be
to me a source of the greatest consola-
tion ! it would conduce beyond all else



to make me endure my confinement
with resignation! oh! good Sir Randolf,
plead for me with your friend, and
persuade him to allow me this unex-
pected pleasure !"—

The smile, with which she accom-
panied this request (*twas the first
which played upon her lips, since she
became a captive) was irresistible. As
she pronounced the last word, she ex-
tended her hand towards him, and he
kissed it with rapture. A wish, ex-
prest in a manner so fascinating and so
unlooked for, was a law to the enamour-
ed robber ; and addressing himself im-
mediately to his companion, he en-
forced her request with so much energy,
that Gero though with a sorry grace
found himself compelled to grant it.

— " Now then'* said Randolf, as he



left the tent with Gero," now then
you can judge for yourself, which of
our modes of treating our captives is
the most likely to succeed at the long
run. When did your Nun ever speak
to you with such gentleness, or favour
you with so sweet a smile ? when did
she ever extend her hand towards you
of her own accord, and suffer you
to press your lips upon it ? credit me,
Gero ; send her to my mistress, and I
will bet my head upon it, that before
long half her obstinacy and aversion
will have disappeared. You see, how
complaisant I have made the lady Ida ;
and it only requires a little kindness
and flattery well applied to make our
religious ladies, just as tame and as
obliging as their sisters of the wicked

In the course of the day Randolf



returned to inform Ida, that she mu^t
not expect the visit of the captive Nun
till after midnight.

— " My friend," said he, " is obliged
to keep it a profound secret from the
greatest part of our companions, that
such a prisoner is in his possession.
That he has a mistress, indeed, they are
aware ; but it would make a terrible
uproar in our community, were it
known that Gero had carried off a Nun ;
and many among our associates ; who
would think nothing of half a dozen
murders, would expect the rocks to
fall and crush us the very next moment,
for daring to lay sacrilegious hands
upon a damsel dedicated to Heaven.
To be sure, we violated no sanctuary
to get at her, for we found her trotting
along the high road, when she ought to



have been quiet within the walls of her
Convent : but still the very sight of
a veil has such influence over the
common rabble, that Gero does not
think it prudent to bring her to your
tent except under the protecting shadow
of night. He also implores you by me
to reward him for this compliance with
your wishes, by persuading her to lend
a more favourable ear to his passion:
he is also desirous of learning her name,
which hitherto she has obstinately con-
cealed ; and above all he is anxious,
that she should lay aside her reHgious
habit, which hourly exposes him to
danger from his superstitious associates.
I know, what you are going to observe :
you believe, that it is nothing but respect
for this habit, which preserves her
from Gcro's violence ; but I swear to



you by everything that is most sacred
and solemn, that neither she nor your-
self have anything to fear from the
men who adore you. Our intentions
towards you are the most honourable :
we have great designs in hand, whose
nature I am not as yet permitted to
cdsclose to you ; but be assured, that
shDuld they succeed, the Countess of
Werdenberg and the fair Nun will have
reason to bless the day when they fell
into our hands, and thus escaped the
being immured for life within the
gloomy walls of a Convent ; a fate,
from which she has been rescued, and
to which you were doomed." —

The prudent Ida, (who saw that
favours, which had cost her so little,
were so well rewarded by her grateful
admirer) took good care not to con-


tradict the robber. She answered him
by a thousand thanks for his intercession
with Gero, and for his assurances of
regard for her welfare ; and she then
dismissed him with a smile so gracious
and so sweet, as riveted his chains for
ever. When beauty, and sense are
united in the same woman, alas! what
puppets in her hands are the mighty
lords of the creation !

Midnight arrived — the hearts of both
the captives throbbed with impatience
for the moment of meeting, though
they knew not, what made them so
impatient. Never seemed time to move
so slowly with Ida, as while she waited
for the stranger's arrival ; and on her
side the lovely Nun quite trembled
with joy, while she followed her con-
ductors to the tent, in which (so Gcro


3 44

had informed her,) she should find a
companion^ in captivity, whose heart
was prepared to sympathize in her
misfortunes — the robbers conducted her
to the door of the tent ; but thinking
it would be most agreeable to the ladies,
that their first interview should pass
without intruders, they suffered her to
enter alone.

It was well for both the captives,
that this meeting took place without
witnesses. — Ida was sitting in a melan-
choly posture, when she heard an ap-
proaching footstep. — She started up,
and beheld by the pale gleams of lier
lamp a tall light figure, whose face was
covered with a thick veil, advancing
from the entrance of the tent. She
hastened to meet her, but uttering a
loud cry,. she started back again. The



religious habit worn by the stranger
was but too well known to her. — It
was the long grey garment decorated
with a golden cross upon the breast, in
which she had so often seen the Nuns
gliding through the cloisters of Engel-
berg ; and the white veil, edged with
black and falling to the very ground,-
was of that particular form appropriated
to the order of the Zurich Sisters; The
veil was now hastily thrown back ; Ida
gazed eagerly upon the Stranger's fea-
tures, and astonishment, joy, and ten-
derness were carried to the highest

— " Gonstantia!" exclaimed Ida. —
" Oh ! Heaven! it is my Const antia !" —

— " Ida! my Ida !" shrieked the Nun,
and clasped her almost fainting sister
to her bosom,

VOL. IV. H And


And now the Sisters wept for joy to
think, that they were once more
united ; and now they wept for grief
at reflecting, that this union had only
made each a partner in the other's cap-
tivity. At length having sufficiently
collected their scattered thoughts, they
made mutual enquiries as to the events,
which h'-.d produced a meeting so un-
expected. Ida related the long and
fearful tale of adventures, which had so
rapidly crouded upon her since Eliza-
beth's wedding : on the other hand,
Constantia briefly stated, that on her
way back to her Convent at Zurich, her
party had been encountered by a band
of robbers: the Cloister- Vassals, whom
the Abbess had sent to protect her,
were soon put to flight ; and thus was
she brought into the hands of Gero,



whom she had the misfortune to inspire
with so violent a passion, that he pur-
chased her from his companions with
his share of the booty arising from the
whole produce of their excursion.

The night past away in mutual con-
gratulations on this meeting so unex-
pected ; and when morning broke, they
recollected, that their plans for the
future were still unarranged. They
had now only time to settle, that as
the knowledge of Ida*s rank had only
served to make the robbers consider
her possession as of double value, it
would be most prudent to conceal
Constantia's real title ; and accordingly
she resolved to resume her former appel-
lation of Mary Tell, an appellation under
which she had past the. only happy
part of her existence.

li 2 Wheii


When Randolf the next morning
inquired of Ida, what she thought of the
fair Nun, she replied, that her society
was extremely pleasing, and would be
much more so, were it not for a certain
coldness and reserve, w^hich probably
would wear off upon further acquaint-
ance. _ In a few uays she informed Gero,
that she had discovered the name of his
mistress to be Mary Tell ; and thus did
Constantia avoid the dangerous import-
ance attached to the title of a Countess
of Werdenberg. By her sister's advice,
she abated somewhat of the haughty
coldness, with which she had hitherto
represt the addresses of her ferocious
lover; though they both judged it
unwise for her to comply with his
request, that she should lay aside her
religious habit. This had hitherto been



the means of protecting her, against
more violent means of enforcing his
passion j and they were of opinion, that
too many restraints could not well be im-
posed upon an affection so ill-regurlated
as the sentiment, which Gero dignified
with the name of love. However, gen-
tle looks and expressions of gratitude
for his attentions were not occasion-
ally refused by Constantia: Gero had
been so little accustomed to be thus
mildly treated by her, that even
these trifling condescensions appeared
to him of inestimable value ; and when
in return for his assurances of future
respect, she one day deigned to extend
towards him iier alabaster hand, the rob-
ber was so transported, that he took the
first opportunity of thanking Ida upon
his knees for a change, which he attri-
H 3 buted


buted entirely to her powerful influence,
and which he implored her to exert still
further in his behalf.

— ^" Noble lady," said he, " you have
often heard Randolf hint, that we have
great plans in agitation, whose chief
object is the promotion of your interests;
nor are they unconnected with the hap-
piness of myself and my adorable Nun,
A dreadful oath forbids my saying
more on this subject at present j but rest
assured, when the time for explanation
arrives, that explanation will be such, as
must perforce content you. In the
mean while suffer me to make to you
one request. It is necessary for the
success of our undertaking, that yourself
and the lovely Mary (together with our
jewels, gold, and all things which we
possess of value) should be removed



frcUti this valley to a retreat at some
distance. During the journey, and
your residence ^t this new abode, pro-
mise me, that you will keep a watchful
eye over your fair companion, on whose
attachment I can by no means rely with
the same confidence, which Randolf
places ©n yours. In this respect, he is
far more fortunate than bis friend ;
since the kind reception, which he never
fails to meet from you, in spite of
the awe with which your modest air
and dignified demeanour inspires him,
Jeaves but little doubt, that you are sen-
sible of his worth, and v/ill in time
be disposed to reward so steady an
attachment. Besides this, I am con-
vinced, that you have too much solid
understanding to think of escapmg from
a place, whose very nature will convince
II 4 you


you on your arrival, that any such
attempt must be unsuccessful : but no
orie can say, what dangerous impossibi-
lities a Nun may not be induced to un-
dertake, animated by religious enthusi-
asm, and confident in the supposed
protection of the Saint, to whom her
service is dedicated. These illusions
may heat her brain, till she desperately
braves every peril, overlooks every difHr
culty, and will draw down inevitable
ruin on her own existence, while she
leaves me to lament over my baffled
hopes. Then mark me. Lady !— watch
over Mary's steps with unceasing assi-
duity : when we again meet, restore her
to me safe and lovely, as I now leave
her ; or never hope to see yourself re-
instated in your claims by the valour
of my arms and those of my compani-


ons, nor restored to society by the
acknowledged title of Countess of Wer-
denberg, and heiress of the wide domains
of Torrenburg, Carlsheim, and Sar-
gans." —

This speech, which was begun in a
kneeling posture and in the softest tone,
which a voice so naturally rough could
adopt, assumed as it proceeded an air of
menace, and was terminated by Gero
with a terrible frown and a loud stroke
upon the brazen pommel of his sword.
Nearly the same discourse was repeated
to her in the evening, (though conveyed
in much milder language) by Randolf.
She delivered such a reply, as circum-
stances compelled her to give, and trem-
bled, as she listened to some obscure
hints and disjointed observations, which
fell from the outlaw, but which no soli-
H .5 citations


citations could induce him to explain.
However, she had heard enough to
excite in her mind the most painful
apprehensions, though not enough to
certify their being well-grounded.

The preparations for setting out were
soon completed : the treasures were
packed up ; and the Sisters wer€ now
informed, that the place of their desti-
nation was a narrow valley situated in
the heart of the Mountains of Hapsburg.
Gero and Randolf took a tender but
respectful leave of the fair travellers,
who were escorted by a small band of
soldiers, composed of such members of
this lawless society as were unfitted by
advanced years for taking part in that
great undertaking, to assist in which,
the young and active were detained.
The ladies set forward, but not till Ida


had made some observstions, which
rendered her doubly impatient to com-
mence her journey.

— "Oh! my sister," she said, as
soon as she found an opportunity of
conversing without being overheard,
" did you not observe among Ran-
dolf 's followers countenances, which you
had' seen before i In spite of their
change of dress, I am certain, that the
two who rode next to Gero were Friars,,
who often visited the Castle of Torren-
burg.'* —

— " Alas!" answered Constantia, " it
is not now, that I learn for the first time,
that a perfect understanding subsists
between these robbers and the unwor-
tjiy members of some religious commu-
nity. During my confinement in Gero's
tent I frequently observed monks among
H 6 his


his visitors ; of whose principles you
will judge, when I inform you, that they
made no scruple to counsel my encou-
raging the licentious addresses of my
jailor, though they were thoroughly per-
suaded, that I was a dedicated Nun :
they offered to release me from my
vows, laughed at (what they termed)
the absurdity of my prejudices, pro-
mised me entire absolution, and advised
me to pay no more respect to my veil,
than they did to their cowls and scapu-
laries. Conceive, dear Ida, my sufferings,
while compelled to listen to such profane
suggestions, and to repress the indig-
nation, which they excited in my
bosom." —

— " And have you then no guess,'*
demanded Ida, " what is the object of
an union so singular ? — Did they never



let fall a syllable, whence you could
collect the nature of this mysterious
enterprize, on which they are now
departed ?" —

Constantia declared her perfect igno-
rance on the subject.

— " Alas ! alas ! '' resumed Ida,
" dreadful apprehensions force them-
selves upon my mind ! Randolf fre-
quently suffered hints to escape him,
which the more that I reflect on them,
serve but to confirm my fears the more.
The robbers have a private understand-
ing with the false Hilar ius. — The Monks,
whom I discovered in RandolPs train,
are of the same order with that betrayer!
—Its true. Count Frederick has treated
me cruelly and unjustly, and now little
merits, that I should feel anxiety on his
account. Yet, oh I that I were but



near him for one half hour, that I might
warn him of the dangers, which hang
over him and his, and which I would
wiliingiy avcri:, though- the price were
the last drop of my blood and the last
breath of my existence."—

The Sisters had full leisure in the wild
solitude to which they were conveyed,
to communicate to each other their
mutual fears and melancholy forebod-
ings. Ida's insinuating manners soon
rendered her a favourite with her grey-
headed guards ; and the persuasion of
Constantia's religious vocation made
them bow with superstitious reverence
at her approach, and hold it an honour
to be suffered to kiss the hem of her
sanctified garment. In consequence of
these prepossessions in their favour, the
Sisters had no other reason to complain



j.of their treatment in confinement, ex
cept the confinement itself.

The place^in which they now resided,
was inaccessible to all, except the robbers,
and the • rays of the sun. It was a flat
spot surrounded by a chain of snow-
covered mountains ; one narrow foot-
path hewn in the rock was the only
entrance, whose windings were known
to none except the ferocious inhabitants
of this valley -, and which the sudden
descent of weights of snow and of ice-
splinters* from the over-hanging rocks
frequently rendered for some time im-
practicable even for them. The Sisters
shuddered, as they gazed upon the gigan-
tic masses of rocks of ice, which glittered
coldly around them as far as the eye
could reach ^ and they could not conceal
their terrors at reflecting, that a single

* Avalanches,


motion of thpse cloud-covered summits
would be sufficient to convert the valley
into their inevitable grave. The chief
of their guards, however, upon hearing
them make this remark,, assured them,
that this never would happen, because it
never had happened yet.

— " You must know^ fair ladies,"
said he, " that I am one of the most
antient among the heroes, who have the
honouj to serve under the banners of
Sir Randolf of Mansfeld. While I was
but a child, I fled hither with my poor
father, then the innocent victim of
monkish persecution, and we found a
kind refuge in the bosom of these
mountaihs. The man, who was then
at the head of this hospitable commu-
nity, had been acquainted with the first
institutor of the band, and had learned



from him many remarkable particulars
respecting this valley ; some of them in
good truth enough to curdle the young
blood in your veins with very terror :
but as to such an accident as that which
you apprehend, never had such a thing
been known to happen. Therefore set
your hearts at rest, ladies : tlie valley
lasted out his time 5 you see, it has
almost lasted out mine^ and I warrant
you, it will last out yours also." —

The Sisters had no better means of
passing the tedious hours of captivity
than in listening to the old robber's
never-ending narratives : besides, they
thought it by no means impossible, that
in the warmth of discourse some parti-
culars might escape him, which might
tend to the improvement of their own
situation. They therefore often en-


treated him to relate the adventures of
his father, v'ho had been so unjustly
persecuted ; as abo to tell them, what
he had learnt, from his first captain,
respecting the original founder of this
society of freebooters, and to give them
some account of the various singularities
of the mountains. They could not be
better pleased to listen, than the old

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