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“Ay!--but even while the horror of the shadow and the treachery were on him he had faith in her; and his faith was justified; it gave him, in reward, his bright, immortal love !"
He spoke with a warm, tremulous earnestness in his voice that lent his words a personal meaning, a personal passion; poetry had woke in him at last. Idalia, as she heard him, could not but know how utterly she had won his faith, his trust, his unquestioning idolatry, could not but know, also, of how noble a cast his love was made. Watching her, he thought he saw for one moment a flush rise to her face, and a quiver come on her lips ;-it might be but the changing shadows of the night. She turned her head and looked at him, gently, pityingly, almost tenderly, with a look of admiration in it through all.
“ Sir Fulke! you are too loyal for this world, far, far too loyal to spend your heart on any woman's love. It is only fairy gold, believe me, and if you
took it would turn ashes in your hand. And now, a safe ride homeward to you, and good night.”
She held her hand out to him with a sweet and winning gesture, the more marked in her because she never gave her hand in familiar salutation; he bent over it, and touched it with his lips, a hot and lingering kiss, in which all his silenced passion spent itself. .
She did not rebuke him; it seemed as though she had not power to speak coldly or chidingly to him, the man whose life was owed her, whose head had rested in his dying hour on her heart. As he rode slowly out down the cedar avenue that passed in front of the terrace he looked
up; she was leaning still over the marble parapet, her form distinct against the dark masses of myrtle foliage, in the brilliance of the moonlight shining full upon her from the sea. She gave him a farewell envoi of her hand as he bowed to his saddle, a slight, graceful gesture such as from her palace-prison Queen Ysonde might have given to her lover; and Erceldoune went on through the fragrant night, till his horse's feet beat out rich odours from the trailing leaves, dizzy with that riot of hope, joy, belief, and desire, which is too tumultuous and impatient for happiness, but yet is happy beyond all that the world holds. The Countess Idalia remained long in her solitude upon the terrace, leaning her arm on the marble, and gazing down as she bent above into the shelving slopes of leaf and blossom, where the fire-fies made the woodland as star-studded as the skies; an hour passed, and she was still there alone in the glistening Eastern night, dreaming and thoughtful.
“ Sir Fulke! It is a gallant Norman name,” she said, softly. is cruel to have given him back his life only to make its wretchedness ; and yet, it is too late now-he would never forget now.
I tried to save him, and he would not be saved !"'
Saved from what ? Saved from herself! And she knew it was too late now, for she knew well how he loved her.
A little while before, and in her own gardens at Naples, a brave boy, in the brightness of his youth, had been run through the heart in a rapier duel for her sake; and she had not felt a tithe so much pain as lay on her now, so much weary, passionate, and vain regret. Then many had called her heartless, and the mother of the dead boy had cursed her with pitiless curses; none would have called her heartless now.
" It OWEN'S REVENGE.
A TALE OF THE SEA.
I was then scarcely ten years old. My father possessed a fine estate,
a , and we lived in the greatest luxury. I had ridden out by myself on my pony, and had reached a somewhat secluded part of the park, where the bridle-path passed among grassy knolls, and tall trees, flinging their branches across a narrow dell, formed a thick canopy overhead, and gave a somewhat gloomy aspect to the sequestered spot. It was one I seldom visited, and I was wondering whether sprites or fairies, good or bad, of whom I had heard the country people speak, really came there to gambol and play their pranks, when a figure started up from behind a bush with a menacing gesture, and, before I could make my pony gallop on to escape him, I found the rein seized by a stout man with bushy whiskers, a sunburnt countenance, and, as I then thought, very unpleasant features. He appeared to me much older than he probably really was, comparing, as I naturally did, his face with those on which I was most accustomed to look. Though his features were rough he was tolerably well dressed, and did not look like a common ruffian who designed to rob me. For more than a minute he held my rein in the attitude of forcing back my pony, and glared fiercely at me. “I have come to look at
know you again when we meet,” he exclaimed at length ; and, to my surprise, the tone of his voice was that of a gentleman. “ You have deprived me of my inheritance you have come between me and fortune and happiness and the only things worth living for in this world, and I am determined to have my revenge. While we remain together on earth, I will pursue you—whatever your course in life may be, I will find you out; I will balk you in your dearest wishes—I will prove your bane in whatever you undertake -I will destroy your happiness— I will stand like a lion in your path, and bar your progress. I will not injure you in life or limb—I might kill you, but I will not do that—as you have injured me by legal means, so will I keep within the law in taking my revenge, but it will be a full one notwithstanding. Now go, youngster, and my bitter curses go with you! You
your fond father and mother what you have heard; their love cannot protect you—their anger cannot overtake me. Before they could decide what to do I shall be far away beyond their reach ; and tell them that, though they may not for many a long day hear of me, that I bide my time. Now go-go-or I may be tempted to do more than I intended, and remember that I hate you!"
He flung the pony's head from him, making the animal rear and almost fall back over me, but I stuck on, and, digging my spurs into his flanks, dashed on along the path, leaving the man gazing fiercely at me with his fist clenched and his arm extended in the direction I had taken. When I again took one more alarmed look round, he had disappeared.
My first impression was that the man was mad, but still his curses and his threats and fierce looks frightened me, and I must own that I felt somewhat inclined to cry. I did not, though, but galloped on as hard as I could till I reached the house. Giving my pony to a groom,
I into my room without speaking, and, locking myself in, burst into a fit of tears. Two hours afterwards my mother, wondering at my non-appearance in the drawing-room, came to my door, and when I opened it and exhibited my scared countenance, she inquired if anything dreadful had happened. “Oh no—nothing,” I answered. “Only an odd man appeared in the woods, and said something strange—but it's all right now.” This was the only account I ever gave of the adventure. It was surmised that I had met a gipsy, who probably hoped to extort money from me. My father made inquiries in every direction, and gave notice that he should prosecute any rogues and vagabonds found trespassing on his property.
I, however, could not help often thinking over the adventure, and wondering what the man could have meant when he said that I had come between him and fortune. I determined to try and get my mother to solve the mystery, so one day I asked her, casually, if my father had inherited his estate, or how it was that he became possessed of it. She seemed surprised at the question, but told me, with some hesitation, it seemed to me, that he had gained the property a short time before after a long-contested lawsuit. Somebody coming in prevented me from asking further questions, and my mother never again alluded to the subject.
II. THREE years passed by. I had been seized with an ardent desire to go to sea, and as my parents had never been in the habit of thwarting my wishes, they could not refuse me this somewhat unreasonable one in & young gentleman heir to some fifteen thousand a year. What they might have done had I been an only son I do not know, but as I had several brothers and sisters, they considered, I conclude, that should I be expended in fighting my country's battles, my place as heir might readily be supplied by my next brother, who highly applauded my determination. To do him justice, however, I am very certain that he had no selfish motives in so doing ; indeed, his great wish was to be allowed to go also, and share my fortunes.
The matter settled, while my father wrote to our county member to beg that he would look out for a good ship for me, I wrote to my tailor, directing him to make me a uniform without delay, and to arrange my outfit. Young gentlemen with large expectations are as fond of fine clothes as are sometimes poor ones, and on the day my uniform arrived, and during three months or so afterwards, I took every opportunity of wearing it in public. Young as I was, I was made a good deal of in the neighbourhood, and it thus became pretty widely known that I was about to go to sea; or, as I told people, with no small amount of vanity, to become an officer in the
navy. I believe that very few young gentlemen ever went to sea with a better kit than I had when I at length was directed to join the Ianthe frigate, of forty guns, commanded by Captain Hansome. I found that I was not
thought nearly so much of on board as I had been in our county, at those houses where five or six flaxen-haired young ladies formed part of the family. I remember that Jack wrote me word, however, that they had begun to make fully as much of him on one occasion when it was supposed that war would break out, and on another when it was reported that the frigate had been sent to the West Indies ; but that might have been only his fancy. My father was unwell
, so the steward took me to Portsmouth, and he, not liking the look of the somewhat foam-covered Solent Sea, sent me off under the charge of a waterman in a shore boat to the ship, which lay at Spithead. We had a dead beat, and I was very sick before we got half way across. The first lieutenant was on deck as I crawled up the side.
“ You have not been to sea before," he observed, glancing at my wobegone countenance, and then at the numberless articles handed up after me.“ A pity your friends hadn't any one to tell them that a frigate has no lumber-room for the stowage of empty boxes. Boy! send Mr. Owen here."
The lieutenant did not wait for an answer, and I stood expecting some other remark to be made to me, but he did not deign to address me again. While looking about and wondering at the strange appearance of the frigate's deck, of which I had no previous conception, I saw a broadshouldered man, with large whiskers and a sunburnt countenance, in the uniform of a master's mate, appear from below, and approach. He touched his cap to the lieutenant, without looking at me, and asked for what he wanted him.
“ To take charge of this youngster, Mr. Owen,” answered the lieutenant. “ You must dispose of his traps as you best can. Auous ones will, I doubt not, be soon expended. Introduce him to the mess, and see that he gets into no mischief.”
“Ay, ay, sir. I have had many a youngster to look after in my time (some are now post-captains), and I know how to treat them," he answered, glancing at me with as much indifference as if I were a lady's poodle committed to his charge.
There was a sympathy between the lieutenant and the mate—the first might have been an admiral as far as age was concerned, the second a post-captain. Without speaking he led me into the midshipman's berth. There were a good many people seated round the table, of all ages-assistant-surgeons and clerks and master's-assistants, besides midshipmen and master's mates, as passed midshipmen were called.
“Let me introduce to your favourable notice, gentlemen, Mr. Harry Nugent,” he said, leading me in by the hand with much ceremony, but speaking in a tone which sounded somewhat sarcastic. It struck me as odd at the time that he should have known my name, as the lieutenant had not told him. " I must go and look after his traps," he added, as the rest of the party made room for me.
They treated me kindly enough, offering me dinner, which had jast been placed on the table, but the food looked very coarse, and I was too sick to touch anything. They soon drew from me all the information I had to give about myself, and when they learned that I was an elder son, with large expectations, and was to have what seemed an unlimited supply
of money, some of the older ones treated me with far more respect than
“I wonder what could have induced you to come to sea, to be kicked and cuffed by your superiors, till you are big enough to kick and cuff others in return," observed an oldster, John Pearson I found was his
"If I had had a tenth of your tin, I'd have stayed on shore to the end of my days. The sea is only fit for poor beggars like you and I, Owen, is it?
A curious expression passed over Owen's countenance, and a frown settled on his brow, as having disposed of my property and just retaken his seat, he answered:
“ I suppose Nugent comes to sea to show us what a pleasant life it may prove to a man of fortune, eh ?”
“ No!" I answered, with simplicity. “I came to sea because I have read of Howe and Jervis and Nelson and Collingwood, and because I expected to find it a field of fame and glory, as they did.”
There was a general laugh, in which the youngsters joined the loudest.
“A sucking Collingwood !" cried one.
“A field of water, which the ship has to plough," said another, who set up for a wit.
There was no end to their remarks.
“Never mind, Nugent,” remarked Owen. “ We'll soon get you out of those antiquated notions."
He was as good as his word, and I soon learned to look at a life at sea in a very different light to what I had done when I determined to follow it. Still pride made me resolve to stick to it, and when I wrote home, to speak as if I were thoroughly satisfied with choice.
Two days after I joined, the frigate sailed for the Mediterranean. Owen did his best to gain my confidence, and so far succeeded, that, being placed in his watch, I was his constant companion. I was at first shocked at his opinions and open acknowledgment of his very lax morals, and though in the latter respect he might not have been much worse in reality than others in the mess, I observed that by degress some of them, especially Pearson, began rather to fight shy of him. Often I remarked an expression on his countenance which was most disagreeable, and two or three times as I looked at him the idea came across my mind that I had seen him before. Once, and only once, I thought he must be the person who had so frightened me years before in the park, but I dismissed the idea as preposterous, as that person was a great deal older than Owen, who, besides, seemed too careless, easy-going a fellow to do anything of that sort. . In the Mediterranean, that most delightful of stations to a man who has plenty of money in his pocket, we visited a number of places. Whenever Owen went on shore he took me with him, and did not scruple to make use of my purse, in order, as he said, that he might initiate me into the mysteries of life.
Those who are acquainted with what a midshipman's life on shore often is, may easily conceive the description of scenes into which he introduced me. With the wariness of the serpent, however, he took care not too early to shock my moral sense, and therefore only gave me glimpses of the scenes to which I have alluded. We were at Naples