ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
VOLUME THE THIRD.
ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
WHY I can smile, and murder while I smile!
And cry content to that which grieves my heart;
And frame my face to all occasions.
I can add colours to the cameleon,
And wet my cheek with artificial tears.
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme,
AN IRISHMAN IN THE WRONG.
AS we have already detailed Captain Derrick’s successful expedition in favour of the injured Signoras, S-forza, and safely restored him to the retreat he so rashly quitted, we will now follow him to a period distinguished by circumstances peculiarly distressing; in which he found himself, involved, through those very errors, that independent of their consequences, would, had they been properly guarded against, have assumed the character of laudable principles; but with the cold customs that prudence directs and justifies, Patrick had nothing to do. In his estimation, vice ought always to yield to, and to bend beneath the mighty crush of virtue. Totally ignorant of those wise operations, which, for ends unknown to indiscriminating mortality, supercede for a time the most benevolent efforts, he considered it as an article of his faith to expect even supernatural assistance, (for without it, many of his futile plans could not be realized,) upon all occasions that presented to exercise his benevolent propensities; and which, as he had been remarkably favoured in a few particular instances, the same infatuation encouraged him to pursue. True, he had not then to learn the possibility of disappointment, since even those plans which were most rationally founded, often failed; but Derrick, fully persuaded of their vast utility, and that they were properly cast, and still better conducted, would not suppose their defective powers rested with the contriver, but went on still inventing—still deceived. Yet no ways discouraged by repeated mortifications, he comforted himself with the adage of “Worse luck now, better another time.”
His impetuosity was also a trait in his disposition, which frequently proves its own punishment; and in the following instance, produced a train of consequences that threatened irreparable mischief.
It may be necessary in this place, to disclaim every title to the mean character of a plagiarist; as the situation in which our unlucky Irishman is so shortly to appear, has already been described by our more able contemporaries; nor would we have hazarded a description, (in which nothing entirely new can be introduced, if we except the originality of a very troublesome prisoner) could it have been avoided, without a chasm in our history. As it is, we will throw ourselves upon the candor and generosity of our readers; who will, we trust, allow of the possibility for descriptions and characters to tally in a degree, where the subject cannot admit of a total variety. For this we will venture to engage, that where truth and nature can be preserved inviolated, we will give our simple tale as much diffusion and originality, as an exact regard to history and well authenticated events will justify.—
Return we, then, to our honest Hibernian, who possessed a courage which was strengthened by the impetuosity already hinted at, and which no common circumstance could appal; adding to it a certain tenacity of opinion, or in other words, an inflexible obstinacy in all those points, where he conceived such an exertion necessary. Hence those repeated blunders which so often crimsoned the cheek, and pained the heart of his beloved child; and hence, the success which even his temerity did not always defeat.—Attached to the Cavalier Jerome, and so well assured of his loyal principles, and well established character upon that head, Derrick had never supposed that Polygon, whose interest he laughed at, and whose malevolence he despised and detested, possessed influence enough in that country to strike at that Cavalier’s safety; although Jerome, it was evident from the caution he used, was not quite so sanguine; but previous to Patrick’s last attack upon Polygon, the scheme which involved those warm friends of innocence had been laid, and the mine was ready to spring, which was to blow the unfortunate Irishman’s plans to atoms, and complete a revenge so detestable!
In consequence of the pursuit Jerome had so carefully conducted respecting his valuable young friend, for whose honourable safety he entertained some very reasonable fears, his trusty agents generally passed an hour or two in a day, in one or other of those houses, which they well knew to be frequented by the spies of government; contriving to give their appearance an air of chance, in the cherished hope of gaining some clue to her present situation. As it was necessary to assume a dress and manner entirely opposite to their station and purpose, Manuel, the leader, chose to be distinguished by a laughing light frivolity;—one who could tell a good story, sing a good song, and attached, within the rules of decorum, to the generous juice of the grape. Upon one of these occasions, it was his good or bad fortune to be noticed by Jacobus Storace, who with several others of the same stamp, were apparently waiting the arrival of another person, as they expressed their wonder at his improper delay.
Some flasks of wine stood before them, one of which was immediately pushed towards Manuel, with a high recommendation of its superior flavour; but before he was qualified to pronounce his opinion, the appearance of Isaac Polygon deprived him of every inclination, but those of coming at the motive of this meeting and escaping unsuspected. To do the latter, would defeat any attempt at the discovery of their schemes; and even after he found himself perfectly secure from Polygon’s suspicions, that old deceiver’s habitual caution, prevented his understanding any thing further than mutilated scraps of a conversation which was not intended for the ear of a stranger; and, from which, to avoid singularity, it was necessary he should either withdraw, or put in execution a plan he had often meditated, this was, to feign excessive inebriation; and he sportively taking a flask of brandy, offered to empty it immediately, at the same time exhibiting symptoms which seemed to render such a step unnecessary.
Trusting, therefore, to the goodness of his head, he swallowed enough to countenance the suspicion he wished to realize, and in a few minutes dropped from his seat in apparent stupidity; but in the management of this business, Manuel overrated his ability as a toper, and was too much confused to understand more than the words—“Cavalier”—“Prison”—“Derrick”—“Revenge”—and “Familiars;”—these, however, were sufficient to convince him, that his beloved master, in whose company he had fought, bled, and conquered, was in imminent danger, and this not from the civil power; and that he ought not to lose a moment in guarding him against it. Recovering, therefore, as quickly as he dare from the floor upon which he had fallen, Manuel stumbled away without being detained by any officious politeness, and he soon found himself on the road leading to the Cavalier’s abode;—when the fumes of what he had taken, acting in conjunction with an evening breeze upon his desultory brain, rendered it impossible to reach the hospital till he was somewhat recovered.—For this purpose, a fallen tree offered an acceptable seat, and Manuel soon found himself enabled to proceed; but just as he was about to renew his walk, a smart blow upon the shoulder, occasioned him to turn suddenly round, when his eye was saluted with the rosy phiz of the laughing Derrick; and his ear, with the salutation of “What cheer, messmate.”
Manuel answered the challenger with much respect: for Patrick’s harmless eccentricities and inexhaustible cheerfulness, had secured him as many friends at his assylum, as the Cavalier’s continual caution permitted him to select; and indeed a few more,—for Derrick was not particular in his selection, provided they possessed apparent honesty and real good humour.
To meet the Irishman so far from home, was matter of astonishment to Manuel, who knew his master’s motives for confining him; but, when he beheld in the twinkling eye, and staggering gate of this true son of Neptune, certain indications of his own late imprudence, and that Derrick had also been sacrificing to Bacchus, Manuel’s wonder ceased; and he thought himself justified, although little better than his companion, to walk home with him. Respectfully, therefore, he took the passive sailor’s arm, and made towards the common fields, beyond which the stately mansion stood. Derrick passed quietly on till they arrived at a small wine house, much frequented by those of the Factory, and others who drank mixed liquors, for its excellent Hollands; when perceiving Manuel turning his leg over a low stone wall, beyond which their path extended, he suddenly stopped—drew away his arm from his conductor, and with an arch grin, said they were upon a wrong tack, for there was a snug harbour within reach, where they might lie too, and refresh themselves with some excellent grog. Manuel shrugged up his shoulder, with “Patienza bono St. Antonio?” for he could not comprehend Derrick’s half Portuguese—half Irish—embellished as his accents were by a certain stammering, which wonderfully assisted to bewilder his meaning.
“Patientza?” hiccuped Patrick, “why as I live now, but he may be as good a saint as St. Anthony, or the whole string of those gintry, and I don’t care if I do take a sup with him, but I niver heard of his name before; so come along, honey!”
”Nos esperanza?” rejoined the unhappy Portuguese with a deep sigh, who feared he should be kept too long from the execution of his important commission by this foolish delay. — “Knows Poronzo? It’s more than I do then:” interrupted the quibbling Patrick, “but I suppose he is a saint of owld Bacchus’s canonizing, and an acquaintance of the other owld jontlemin’s, so we will even join company.” But finding Manuel gently attempting to cross the wall, he asked if Signor Patienza and the other old soaker were gone that way? because why, he shouldn’t stir a step after them:—“But mayhap you do not fancy the company of an honest tar! well, well, all’s one for that;—however,” raising his voice to its utmost pitch, and giving poor Manuel a very uncourtly shake, “it is my will and pleasure to drink a glass of grog in that very house: You see it, dont you, just before?—Well then, as I am none of your shim-sham cowardly beggarly Portuguese, who bye-the-bye isn’t a maravidi better than a half tiger, half monkey fiddling skipping French jackanapes,—why I don’t like to be alone without somebody with me,—so come along,” giving the astonished fellow a hearty pull, “and we’ll set foot to foot till—but how now!—What are all these cursed grimaces about?—You can’t go!—business—honour—all stuff!—Won’t? By Davy Jones’s Locker but you shall now, and that’s a bowld word, seeing that its fuller of gowld and precious stones than the snug little Casa at Loretto, that took such a nice bit of a walk without moving from the place it was born at; or the owld cuckold’s nest at—faith, I forget, O—at Mecca.”
As Manuel was not quite competent to the art of studying the Captain’s hyperbolical allusions and metaphors, he luckily escaped the necessity of calling him to an account for the unequivocal rudeness of his reflections; but still steadily persisted in his refusal to stop; and after wasting some precious minutes in trying to explain his motives for hurrying homewards, he again attempted to draw Derrick from his fixed purpose; but with a superior degree of manual strength and invincible obstinacy, his antagonist obtained a complete victory over the unlucky Portuguese; who, too weak to withstand the potency of frequent libations, soon felt himself unable to retire without that assistance he had so prematurely offered to his equally helpless companion, and it was almost midnight when these convivial friends arrived at the great hospital.
The Cavalier, who had been extremely anxious for the safety of his thoughtless favorite, received him with real displeasure; and the more when he beheld the situation of both. But his serious remonstrances were opposed with so much inoffensive drollery by Derrick, and the contrast which his laughing features exhibited to Manuel’s heavy rueful countenance, that even Spanish gravity could not have withstood an inclination to smile; and unwilling to commit himself before an erring servant, he would have dismissed the conscious culprit; but the length of the walk had so far assisted Manuel’s recollection, as to bring forward certain remembrances respecting his master; and throwing himself suddenly at Jerome’s feet, he entreated him to punish his dreadful transgression in any way he should think proper. “Retire to rest, Manuel,” replied the Cavalier, who mistook the cause of this eager address, “to-morrow I will think of an adequate punishment.”
—“To-morrow?” repeated the half distracted creature, “O my master,—now!—this very minute, spurn me from your feet! I have ruined you! this fatal delay” and he looked reproachfully at Derrick, “has destroyed you—Fly this moment! They will be here immediately: nay, I hear them now!” and he looked round with inexpressible agony, “I hear the carriage,—O that the earth would open and swallow up the monster who could betray so dear a master!”
“Begone, fool, and sleep off this mad enthusiasm,” cried the really angry Cavalier, “and you, Signor, retire also, I chuse to be alone!—“What leave him to the power of those who—but ah! Signor, indeed I hear a carriage—it approaches from the road—its wheels roll heavily under the gateway”—he then ran to the window, “Yes, yes, Jackimo opens the inner gates and bows as they pass,—What shall I say, that you are dead?—That you cannot be disturbed?”
Convinced by the sounds which whispered along the lower passages, that some visitors had actually arrived, Signor Jerome made a sign to his servant to be silent, while he opened the door, and listened with a countenance not wholly free from apprehension; but a dead stillness which succeeded the late sounds, struck the Cavalier as bearing an analogy in more lights than one, to the tremendous silence which preceded the memorable earthquake. To Derrick, who had derived much entertainment from what he stiled owld Patienza’s fancies, this visit appeared no ways extraordinary; and he readily concluded they were some hasty sowls, who were sneaking home from a rare jollification, and were afraid of being heard by the Governor of that enchanted castle; but Manuel’s agonized countenance and frantic actions told another tale; forbidden to speak, he could only weep, sigh, and have recourse to his beads, unheeding the irreverend gestures of his companion.
After waiting in uneasy suspense for nearly a quarter of an hour, Jerome distinctly heard the clapping of doors, which was immediately succeeded by the steps of several people as they slowly ascended; and—a similar appearance to that which we described as presented itself to the affrighted Almeria, struck terror to the heart of Jerome; who fully understood the mystic signs of an inquisitor’s profession. Derrick, who had never beheld a scene like this, gazed at the terrific figures with a wild half-frightened eagerness; but, when they presented a paper with the usual forms to the Cavalier, he directly encouraged an idea, that Polygon was at the bottom of the precious mischief, and he immediately planned a system of opposition to their designs; internally swearing the good Cavalier should never be subjected to such a villanous crocodile.
Had our Captain possessed but his usual scanty share of caution, he would have submitted with a better grace; but with his animal spirits heightened by grog, and every feeling which benevolence, hatred, courage, and impetuosity could enliven,—and roused by this supposition, revenge became the settled purpose of his soul, and the supposed agents of his enemy its determined objects. While watching for an opportunity to execute his mad intention, Derrick kept an attentive eye upon the familiars, who civilly pointed towards the door as a signal for their prisoner’s departure; while another of those unwelcome guests, made a motion for him also to accompany his friend. “Thank you heartily,” cried the indignant Irishman, “but I chuse to remain where I am, and so shall this jontlemin d’ye see; so set off and tell the owld cannibal he is mistaken for once, that’s all, honey!” A tremendous frown was the only answer he received to this daring attack, as the familiars were astonished for a moment even beyond the power of acting; but immediately recovering, two of them advanced, seized the refractory Patrick, and were dragging him towards the passage when Manuel entreated him, for the love of St. Anthony, to submit to the orders of the most holy tribunal.
“A fig for St. Anthony,—the Pope, and all his whelps too,” replied Derrick, who struggled to free himself from the grasp, “they may kiss—and as to your holy tribunal, to come for to drag a man out of his bed without knowing why, as one may say,—I would not give a —— for such love as that!” “For my sake then, Derrick,” said Don Jerome, “submit to your fate, and go without opposition; you know not the ruin you are bringing upon me, Frederico, Almeria, and yourself by this conduct.”
Too much exhausted for farther resistance, and touched with this affecting appeal to his passions, he reluctantly submitted to be put into the covered carriage; for he swore that not a member of his, which was the true Irish oak, should ever be employed to carry his body into a Portuguese limbo; nor did he fear being detained there long, as no venemous reptile could stand the power of that same Irish oak which composed his frame, (poor Derrick was rather premature even in this declaration) therefore they would rejoice to be rid of him. With these and similar reflections, he passed the time till they arrived at the prison, creating a thousand apprehensions in Jerome’s bosom, for the fate of a man who had ventured greater lengths in his impolite resistance, than ever prisoner had done before; for though he had delivered his rude defiances in his own language, it by no means followed that they were not understood by the guards, who were generally competent to their awful employment in its different departments; however, this remained to be known, and the Cavalier could only (by pressing his hand or a whispering entreaty to forbear) signify his sorrow for his friends imprudence but these were lost upon Derrick although in pity to the suffering Cavalier, he checked that volubility which was soon to be completely stopped.
To describe Patrick’s hostile menaces, frantic entreaties, and bitter sarcasms, when he found he must be separated from his friend, and occupy a small room, or rather cell, without even the comfort of venting his anger in loud soliloquies, would be unnecessary, nay impossible. The solemn silence of those awful domains, where every groan or sigh, as it burst from the tortured spirit, was amenable to censure, and the indulgence of them forbidden; the distant whispering step of those whose employments demanded their presence in the various cells; the visible darkness, as he called it, rendered still more melancholy by a few lamps, disposed in different parts of the prison; and the uncertainty of his own and the Cavalier’s fate, soon conquered our poor prisoner’s courage; who, thoroughly recovered from his late inebriation, and left to the perpetual employment of self examination, began to think that vice had more power over the innocent than he once could have supposed; and that it was even possible, for wickedness to triumph: nay, that Polygon himself might then be flourishing in a grand situation, re-possessed too, (this was an excruciating idea)—re-possessed too of the lovely sweet Francisca!
Why a suggestion of this nature should intrude amidst regrets so much more serious, was an hypothesis which even Derrick himself might fail in ascertaining; however, it was a suggestion that added a bitterness to his situation, and he groaned at times, with the weight his galling thoughts imposed.
For several days after their seizure, the captured friends were permitted to remain unquestioned and unmolested; but, upon the fifth, after their commitment, an officer was appointed to conduct them to the place of examination. Here Derrick preserved a total silence, till Signor Jerome had heard and answered those questions, which were first put to him; but when the inquisitor observed the same formalities with Patrick, such as enquiries respecting his name, age, business at Lisbon, and what he imagined to be the leading cause of his apprehension, our Irishman felt his choler rise;—suppressed resentment gave him a severe twinge, and he looked at Jerome, as if for permission to make a hearty reprisal.
It had been hinted at court, that his Portuguese was hardly to be understood; his defence, therefore, was suffered to proceed in a sort of corrupt English, such as few foreigners could understand—this was a proof that their knowledge of language was pretty extensive, and the Cavalier dreaded the consequence; for he saw the spirit of contradiction rising to Patrick’s eye, as he eagerly attempted to catch his fellow prisoner’s attention, who immediately glanced to an opposite direction. After some blundering and not very polite responses to the truly patient inquisitor, who sat as second judge, he was interrogated respecting his knowledge of Almeria, otherwise denominated Cleveland, her supposed affinity to the Tavora family, and the manner by which he became interested in her fate, so as to bring forward a marriage between her and Frederico de Lima.—At the mention of creatures for whom he would freely have given up every thing but life itself, Derrick absolutely started, and listened with a confused air, extremely prejudicial to his advantage. His spirits were in alarm, and thrown from his guard, which was never very strong, he gave those kind of answers best suited to the purpose of his cool and artful interrogator.
After looking over the secretary’s papers who had taken down the examination, the head inquisitor, who had not before spoken, thus addressed his unfortunate prisoner: “From what has appeared in the deposition given by you, Patrick Derrick, against the implied criminals, Frederico de Lima and Almeria Cleveland, we are bound to give our opinion, grounded upon your own words, that the said Frederico and Almeria have committed a most heinous crime against this our sacred tribunal, the ever blessed pope, the church, and all good catholics, by making an incestuous marriage; which marriage, you, Patrick Derrick, have abetted, forwarded, and encouraged.”
“It’s a lie,—an eternal lie! I niver said any such thing,” cried the enraged Irishman, whose prudence, patience, and even fear of death, could no longer stand such a terrible attack, “I niver, no niver, said they were brother and sister; I only said they loved like brother and sister; and what harm”—“Bind him,” said the offended judge, and his arms were immediately fastened behind him,—“Now take him to his cell; he shall be heard when he can respect our presence.” “I will be heard now, then, and swear that what I have said is true.—No, not true, that is, not what I did say, but what I meant to say.”
This rude interruption was unpardonable. Derrick was led from the hall, his eyes blinded, and his eager questions to his attendants wholly disregarded, till he was conducted through a long passage, and down a steep descent; when the bandage was taken from his forehead, and he beheld a spacious room, across the midst of which ran a large black cloth curtain, which entirely concealed all beyond it. To the left of the door were placed forms, chairs, a secretary’s desk; and upon a kind of platform, three magnificent seats, covered with black velvet, their backs richly embossed with gold, each representing a superb crucifix. Derrick gazed with a vacant eye at these not very extraordinary objects; his benevolent heart was reproaching itself with the mischief he had unintentionally brought upon his unhappy favourites, and his curiosity wanted a greater stimulus than a dismal room could furnish; however, it was soon moved to a degree of horror, by seeing the curtain slowly pushed back, and several men most frightfully disguised, advance from the interior of the room. Upon observing a motion from one of them, one of his attendants bid him go forward. Derrick would have refused, for he did not relish the appearance of his new conductors, whose black vizors, and dress of the same colour, fitted close to the body and limbs, made him tremble; but go he must, and had no sooner passed the curtain, than it fell together with a furious noise.
Turning suddenly at the alarming sound, our poor Captain found himself shut in with these fiend-like figures; who, leaving him to contemplate the scene before him, busied themselves in quickening a small fire, or rather stove, in which were several irons of an uncouth shape, which they were trying to heat. Near him was an engine of a peculiar shape, somewhat longer than the form of a man; at each end of which was a windlass, furnished with ropes, &c. Upon the floor and about the walls, he beheld instruments of various denominations; but Derrick, who gazed in stupid terror, easily guessed their designation; and the idea, that some sort of torture was preparing for him, put to flight even that of Frederico and Almeria. To venture a question in this situation he dreaded, and stood in an agony which hardly permitted respiration; for Derrick’s courage, already so severely tried, could scarcely stand a test so severe. At length, perceiving the man approach him, and finding they were preparing to cover his eyes, he sunk in speechless terror against a pillar, nor made the least opposition as they supported him along the apartment; till finding he had taken more steps than were necessary to reach the engine, he felt a moment’s respite to his fears. Still they went on, and still Derrick became more alert, for his strength encreased in proportion to his hope; when after walking for some time, they stopped;—the bandage was removed, and Patrick once more found himself in his little cell.
IGNORANT of all that passed beyond her little scope of observation, and interested only by affection for those beings who had ventured so much to serve her, and for whose safety she still endured the most poignant fears, Almeria passed her days without any material incident. She saw the spring advance, and watched the opening flower that bloomed before her window, with vague indefinite sensations; and hardly knowing what to wish, expect, or hope for, since her hopes had been defeated, her expectations disappointed, and her wishes, even when granted, productive only of mischief.
It had been her custom, since the season had mellowed into a kindly warmth, to venture within the porch of her little habitation, where, completely hidden from observation by the honey-suckle which covered it, she could catch the fleeting sail as it stole along the calm Tagus, which just shewed itself through a small opening in the shore. The view was momentary, but often repeated and highly pleasing; she could also mark the rising moon, as it threw an imperfect glance upon the level plain to the east; and in a situation of mind which cannot be described, enjoy the tranquil scene.
One evening while thus soberly engaged, she found her meditations interrupted by Lisetta, who almost breathless with alarm, entreated her to come in, for the most holy Father Douro waited to speak to her. Mrs. Cleveland’s heart palpitated as she followed the servant;—she should again behold her mysterious friend! but what could be his errand? “To do good,” said her confidential spirit, and the next moment she was in the arms of—this benevolent protector. Astonished, yet scarcely displeased at a liberty he had never before taken, she bashfully withdrew from his embrace; but he again caught the trembling creature with an energy too earnest to be allowed. “Nay, fly me not, dear child of my lost *** Fear not, I will guard your honour, your delicacy, your peace, with my life. Yet I am to blame;” and he wiped off the tear which trembled on her cheek, “I have been incautious: yet, it must be known; no secret shall now be hidden from my Almeria. —Say then, can you bear intelligence which has almost overcome my fortitude?” “O any thing, every thing but suspense like this.” “Well then, I am authorized to declare, that the family of De Tavora, and all its collateral branches have been fully acquitted of the horrible designs laid to their charge; in consequence—De Lima is nearly free!”
“O,” cried the empassioned Almeria, “blessed friend! confirm that sentence, and I will kneel at thy feet!”
“I do not exactly say that, my child, but I can assure you he is
not only living, but in tolerable health. At present, much remains to be done
before he can be liberated; but of this be assured, that his interest and
yours, employs every power of my soul, every action of my life. Ah! dear
creature, you will soon trace your mysterious friend in many of those
operations which have been given to chance; but for the present I must defer
any further conversation, only say, if you have a token which may be precious
to the heart of your husband, send it by me; I shall see him to-morrow.”
“Yes,” cried the delighted creature, “take this,” drawing a small picture from her bosom, and eagerly kissing it, while her tears fell upon the insensible chrystal, “Tell him, O tell him it has been my companion, my solace in every situation; and when once, O Signor! once indeed, I had nearly lost it. Poor Favorita, I recollect thy wayward fancies! But say, dear Signor, shall you really visit my suffering Frederico, and to-morrow too? and must you go alone? Could not some disguise be thought of in which I might accompany you?”
He returned the sweet earnest glance which strengthened this request, with one so chilling, so piercing, yet not devoid of tenderness, that while it convinced Almeria her hope had failed, seemed to bespeak a mind occupied by another subject. At length, “You can not see him yet, my child, but I trust that happiness, such as mortals define that extensive word, will not be long withheld from both.” He then arose to go, and had reached the door, when suddenly returning, as if struck by a new idea, and yet unwilling to have it thought of consequence, he carelessly asked of whom she spoke, when she reverted to the name of Favorita? “The hermit of the rock,” replied Mrs. Cleveland, who was somewhat surprised at the question, “he, who once I mentioned as bearing some similitude to your person.” “And you think so still?” “No, pardon me, I have been long convinced of that error.” “Error! true, but had there not been some motive for the strong suggestion, could you have encouraged it?” “Certainly not. Yet the difference in years and person is so very striking, that I wonder how I could be so deceived.” “You was not deceived,” said this mysterious stranger, “in me,” and his voice took a solemn tone, “you see united three different characters; my real title must still remain a secret. Soon I trust, it will be cleared from the dark and sullen mist, by which it has been clouded; soon I shall be enabled to enjoy the tranquillity my soul has seldom known. Happiness indeed is irrevocably lost to me; for death, unconquerable death has destroyed its very essence; therefore, to procure it for those I love, is now my only business. I did not mean to have added to your wonder by this discovery so soon, since even now I cannot give it you complete; but the name threw me from my guard, and now adieu! Curb as much as possible, those emotions which tremble in your eye and give that rich animation to your cheek.” So saying, he left her in a situation which pious gratitude, enraptured joy, and unsatisfied surprise, rendered painfully pleasing.
In the astonishing unity of such operations, and all governed, brought forward, and meeting in the actions of one being, Mrs. Cleveland found a subject that in some measure shared those meditations, which in default of a discovery so marvellous, she would have given exclusively to the dear hope of her husband’s anticipated deliverance; but there was still so much mystery attached to this wonderful man, so much to be known of his motives for an interference so amazing, and the rank he really held in life as an inquisitor, that every attempt to give even an air of rationality to his conduct was perfectly useless. Unable, then, to settle this point with herself, she endeavoured to release her mind from a perplexity so painful, and gave herself wholly up to the dear delight of reasonable and well grounded expectation.
From all the Signor had dropped, Almeria gathered this opinion, that Frederico would be emancipated in a few days, and she waited till the following one was nearly closed in a sort of patient inquietude, if we may so couple the words, but the evening which set in dull and tempestuous, brought with it no cheerful hope; when no longer restrained by the caution either of herself or others, she had strayed to the banks of the Tagus, and observed, with an awful sensation, the turbulent waves as they rolled over the bar, foaming and defying the unresisting tide, which yielded to a strong south-west wind. It was a scene that recalled many unpleasant ideas, and broke the chain of our heroine’s meditations, which extended to, and was absorbed by her hoped for, future meeting with her husband. Desirous therefore to escape a scene that too frequently reminded her of past events, and quickened by the approaching storm, she hastened from the shore, and had almost reached the house, when she was met by Lisetta, who entreated her to hasten home, for that there was a grand Signor and Signora just arrived, and she believed they meant to stay till the shower was over, but she did not care to press them till her lady came in.
Almeria was extremely agitated by this account; that strangers, for such she supposed them to be, should trust themselves so far from Lisbon in an evening apparently threatening; that they should stop, without a previous invitation, was rather absurd;—but, O transporting thought! might it not be her anxiously expected Frederico, who, informed of her abode by Douro, and cautious of affecting her too painfully, had sent this dubious message by the servant? “Yes,” she cried, “It is him,—it must be him; accompanied as is most probable by some female relative. Blessed disposer of mortal events, teach me to sustain this pang of bliss almost too exquisite for endurance! enable me to meet with fortitude, the dear source of all that hoard of anguish I have so long endured, and permit me once again to taste the sweets of rational friendship!”
Employed by this pious soliloquy, her trembling feet had reached the threshold; but she could not pass it just then, but sunk upon the sheltered seat, for she had caught a view of her supposed husband through a half shut lattice. In that moment (which seemed the point, that attracted all her hopes, her wishes, her expectations, and comprised in its important grasp her present happiness) she felt every doubt removed, and fearful of trusting her eye with an immediate view of a face so long, so ardently beloved, she averted it from the figure which folded her in a tender embrace. But, O! you, who disappointed in the sweet assurance of meeting, after years of hopeless grief, with a child,—a parent,—a husband: you, that have been led to encourage yet once again the fond delusion, and eagerly wished away the tedious hour that protracts the expected delight;—you only are competent to feel, to describe the agonizing pang which fastened upon your sinking heart, when once more left to the excruciating bitterness of repeated disappointment; and you only can feel in an adequate degree, the distress of our unhappy Almeria, when in the accents of friendly congratulation, her ear caught the voice of Sir Henry Tillotson? Sickening with a variety of sensations, she burst into tears at this cutting defeat of her high wrought expectations; nor was her surprise at meeting with one, towards whom she had acted with such duplicity the least of her distress. Conscious of the censures her suspicious conduct must have incurred, Mrs. Cleveland dared not glance at a countenance which beamed with a mixture of anxious love and tender pity.
Sir Henry understood this part of her distress; and eager to re-assure her sinking spirits, began to speak of the pleasure a meeting so unlooked for, would produce to Lady Tillotson; at the same instant drawing her towards the inner room, “Lady Tillotson!” repeated Almeria in a faint accent, “Is it possible!” and in the next moment she found herself pressed to the bosom of that revered Lady; whose affectionate reception of our confused emigrant, gave a delicious sensation to the heart which had so long been estranged from confidential communication. Restored by this charming assurance of female protection, Mrs. Cleveland found no difficulty in expressing her delighted astonishment, and immediately ordered such refreshments as her little retirement afforded; waving every enquiry respecting their appearance in Lisbon, till the rights of hospitality were performed. In truth, Almeria did not feel too desirous of hearing the mystery of their voyage explained; nothing doubting, but its leading object was that of her situation, as it might respect either her safety, or a re-union with her husband.
With these sentiments those of a sweeter nature were blended. Hope would intrude; and in the soft maternal glance of her kind friend, she tried to read an approbation of the marriage, against which the Baron had formerly set his face. Yet, that it might not be so, made her heart throb with a violence that impeded the questions she so ardently desired to frame. Sir Henry beheld this visible conflict, and without exactly tracing it to its source, felt impatient to remove as much of the cause as his important business would justify; beginning with an exordium upon the beauty of her retirement, its pleasing solitude, and simple ornaments; adding a compliment to the justice of her taste, in selecting a place so well calculated to ensure temporal and mental peace. He then went on to state his reasons for once again visiting Lisbon, and was producing some letters which would elucidate the whole, when Lisetta suddenly entered to announce the arrival of Signor Douro. Almeria was instantly quitting the room to receive him, for to his visit, on a night so dark and tempestuous, she attached some painful ideas respecting Frederico; but she was prevented by his immediate entrance.
To announce her visitors to this yet mysterious friend, was the ready suggestion of politeness; but caution interfered, and she stood in an awkward kind of suspension. In fact no one seemed to consider this meeting in a pleasant light; Sir Henry stood silent and irresolute; his lady’s eye alternately wandered from the stranger to Almeria, as if not quite satisfied with her new acquirement. Douro, instead of resigning his large hat, drew it lower upon his forehead; while Mrs. Cleveland, who found her former perplexities rapidly increase, attempted some observation upon the state of the weather. This was replied to by the Baronet in a very laconic style. Douro started, and seemed to be violently agitated; his step was unsteady, and his actions, as he paced the room, evinced either the paroxism of indignation, or the hurry of surprise.
Sir Henry, who, as well as his lady, felt no favourable sentiment in behalf of their young friend’s supposed attachment to an inquisitor, for he still wore the awful insignia, shrunk from any conversation with him; and as he approached, turned towards a window in defiance of the strong lightning, which then flashed in a perpendicular direction;—again our disconcerted heroine endeavoured to lead the attention of her visitors, by advancing an opinion upon the principles of electricity, but she met with no better success; for the whole party appeared to be absorbed in abstracted meditation. Determined then, to wait the result of this extraordinary silence, she ceased to interrupt it; but set herself to watch the impenetrable Douro, of whom she wished to ask a thousand questions.
At length, encouraged by Lisetta’s entrance to say the strange Signora’s apartment was ready, she arose to accompany her ladyship, “You do not mean to retire for the night, Lady Tillotson?” asked the Baronet, “we may yet reach Lisbon; the storm is almost over, and—” he was interrupted. Douro at the name of Tillotson, uttered an exclamation, too low to be heard by Sir Henry, till he repeated it more loudly, and hastily throwing off his sable garb and slouched hat, stood close to the astonished Baronet, who gazed in horrible amazement at the figure before him, fearfully articulated “From the grave! yes, he is come from the grave; and yet, what incorporeal form ever wore an appearance so natural!” “None,” cried the agitated Douro, “hast thou indeed, then, forgotten the friend of thy heart! Seest thou not in me the identical—Count de Lima?”
“I do, indeed!” said Sir Henry, who opened his arms to receive a friend, he had long supposed to be numbered with the dead; for although the letters which he brought with him, had been long since written by the Count, yet, for some important reason, they did not bear his signature therefore, these epistles which were so long kept back, were no evidence that he still lived.
Almeria heard this amazing discovery with a perturbation she could no ways disguise;—Count de Lima, the hermit of the rock, a Spanish officer, and an inquisitor, all represented by one man, wonderful! most wonderful to the still uninformed Almeria, was this amazing combination. The friend too, perhaps the near relative of her husband! How was she to reconcile the apparent contradictions? but they were realities: for, in the congratulations of these delighted men; in Lady Tillotson’s joy; in their fond and tender acknowledgment of her, as they supposed connected by blood with the De Lima race, she beheld conviction. “Nothing then remains” said the artless woman, as she returned their caresses, “but—but—the presence of my emancipated husband, to complete this charming, this unexpected discovery.”
An electrical shock could not have operated more powerfully upon Sir Henry’s nerves, than this declaration; his hands dropped insensibly from her waist, which he had eagerly encircled; his eye could scarcely restrain the starting tear; and with an emotion not to be wholly concealed, he energetically repeated the word “husband.” Mrs. Cleveland beheld his visible confusion, which restored to her apprehensive mind, his unaccountably steady dislike of her union with Frederico. The same frigid cast of countenance, the same repulsive tone of voice declared his continued antipathy; and, but for the evident pleasure with which the Count de Lima (as he must in future be stiled) received her self congratulatory speech, she had sunk beneath the force of a cruel disappointment. However, even this consolation soon lost its power.—Sir Henry motioned to speak with his newly recovered friend, and they retired to another room, leaving the two ladies in a situation which lost much of its social comfort, from an apprehension of what neither dared to explain. After a quarter of an hour’s absence, the friends returned; and in Count de Lima’s anguished features, Almeria traced the effect of Sir Henry’s communication.
It was indeed a fact, that he had produced a little manuscript, drawn up and signed by the person who delivered Mrs. Cleveland into Derrick’s hands, and who in the interval between De Lima’s reported decease, and Frederico’s marriage, had visited England, and confirmed his wife Laura’s intelligence to Sir Henry, which has been already explained. This intelligence, although communicated by Count de Lima to his friend, had long ceased to operate upon that nobleman’s belief; for, an event which will be spoken of in his little history, completely did away former suspicions. At first, then, he opposed with all the sophistry of interested affection, an information which threatened the peace and happiness of his sweet protegèe; but overcome by Sir Henry’s strenuous arguments, he at last consented to suspend his opinion, till positive circumstances should do away or confirm it. It was likewise agreed, that Almeria should be spared this dreadful shock, till no doubt remained of its tendency. With such serious apprehensions pressing upon the feelings of all present, it was impossible to keep up the spirit of congratulation;—a listless languor—attention visibly constrained — the smothered sigh and starting tear, appealed too plainly to the hearts of our affectionate party, to be entirely overlooked or misunderstood; and they soon after separated, to obtain a transient indulgence of those sensations which both prudence and friendship forbid, while liable to reciprocal notice.—
The Count felt eager to establish his hope of seeing his favourites comparatively happy; Sir Henry and his Lady mourned privately for the agonizing disappointment they must sustain; and the unhappy Almeria encouraged an idea, that she should meet with fresh obstacles to her re-union with Frederico.
REVERSE OF FORTUNE.
FROM the period of Count de Lima’s meeting with Almeria near Cadiz, he had employed every engine his power could command, for the advantage of this persecuted young woman; nor could Sir Henry’s fatal communication lessen his attachment, although it rendered the discharge of what he still conceived to be a duty, yet more painfully difficult; but one branch of it was still in his ability to perform; that of gratifying his laudable curiosity by the perusal of his eventful history, which he had collected from various little memorandums, and from the time of his parting with her for the purpose of her residing at the Baron’s, to the preceding evening, that nobleman had sedulously employed himself in rendering many of his actions clearly intelligible.
Nothing could have been more desirable respecting Count de Lima to Mrs. Cleveland, than this arrangement, so far as it respected his amazing conduct towards her; for she ardently hoped it would explain Sir Henry’s undefinable reluctance to her marriage; but of this satisfaction she was keenly disappointed for the present. However, she had one pleasure in store, since a perusal of what he meant to communicate, would cheat the lonely hours, as the Baronet and his Lady were to accompany their newly recovered friend on the following morning to Lisbon; for her endeavours to detain Lady Tillotson, met with such a determined rejection from Sir Henry, as effectually to prevent any further solicitations upon that head; although she could not guess at his inducement, which in fact was a dread of what might transpire in the confidence of friendship. Thus left to the solitude which rendered her little dwelling not undesirable in the present instance, and which was still more interesting from a possession of Count de Lima’s narrative; as it permitted her the opportunity of deeply studying its affecting and important contents.
“THEODORE DE LIMA TO HIS BELOVED ALMERIA.”
“To give my dear young friend an adequate idea of those difficulties that have put me upon assuming disguises and situations so various, I must refer to an early period of life, when every hour that passed seemed to leave a regret upon the mind for its hasty departure, which succeeding pleasures could not wholly obliterate.
“Our family, which at that period was high in the favour of Joseph, the late monarch, and enjoyed several distinguished posts under government, wished me to tread the crooked, and to a sprightly genius, the unpleasant path of politics; but neither my father’s attachment to his king, or his confidence in the Marquis de Tavora, who had been imprisoned upon suspicion, and the Duke D’Aveiro’s mysterious intrigues, could I behold any temptation strong enough to force me from the light amusements of happy youth; and no wonder, for it was but too apparent in the frequent political squabbles between the Baron de Lima and my cousins D’Aveiro and De Tavora, that certain opposite interests prevailed, to the utter exclusion of domestic peace, or a generous confidence among the parties. You have already understood the said Baron to be my venerable parent and your protector at Tavora: yes, Almeria, to that aged nobleman and his amiable grandchild, I entrusted the daughter of his ancient house; for I hoped in so doing, to secure to him the affection of a young and lovely relative, and to you a father’s love; but more of this in its place.
“In the warmth of my father’s resentment against De Tavora, and the Duke, I too soon discovered the disaffection of the two latter against the reigning family, to be an ostensible cause of the loyal Baron’s interposition; for he was attached to his king with a fervour which exempted him from every suspicion that could affect his safety, in a time of such danger as afterwards occurred. During the fabrication of that horrid plot, which involved in its discovery the innocent with the guilty, I felt my boasted felicity sensibly diminish. Fond, to excess, of the unhappy Marquis, and still more unhappy Duke, feeling too for a sweet and much loved sister whom he had married, I could not behold them advancing to the brink of that precipice which offered its fair and flowery descent, without joining in my father’s solicitations to drop their pernicious intention, although utterly ignorant of its dreadful extent.
“For a short time I fancied our arguments would prove effectual, and we both obtained much relief from the fallacious assurance. Barbarous De Tavora! what a return didst thou make to a family who sought to serve and save thee! What a sacrifice didst thou require to criminal pride and unrestrained passion! Not satisfied with plunging a noble race into the gulph of infamy and undeserved distress, but, unrestrained by every sacred, every honourable claim, thou didst tear the sweet Alzira from her betrothed husband,—throw a veil of horror over his youthful expectations, — and for ever crushed his rational hope of domestic bliss! And yet, Almeria, for the offspring of that relentless man, I have hazarded life itself! For Frederico de Lima—for his emancipation I have ventured into the enemy’s power, and would do more, if more were necessary to effect his deliverance. You are ready to call this assertion the effusions of insanity: no, my dear, it is that of love,—pure, sacred, and never to be forgotten love; for Frederico is also the son of Alzira!
“I cannot go over the particulars of an event which dispossessed reason of her seat, and produced a wandering deriliction of the imagination; such as you once witnessed, when the image of that lamented fair one, met my eye in the portrait of her prototype, Frederico de Lima. I see your astonishment at this declaration, and will explain the mystery: that cousin so much confided in, so deeply engaged in treasonable practices, so much indebted in various instances to Theodore de Lima, scrupled not by the basest manœvres, to tear—but I cannot proceed; from Sir Henry Tillotson you may learn what the torture of retrospection will not let me detail. He can inform you how Alzira became the Marchioness of Tavora; for I once hurried over the fatal story in his presence. He also knows that I protected and adopted that Lady’s offspring, as much and more from affection to her, than my relation to his perjured father could warrant;—but I must fly the hateful subject.
“As if these horrid effects of his treachery had not sufficiently wounded a too susceptible heart, this wretched man had, it was too probable, either through ignorance or design, struck another dart at my assumed tranquillity. Indifferent as to my future establishment in life, and dead to every hope of reciprocal affection, I was induced by my sympathizing father, to wed the sister of her for whom I still encouraged such a sentiment of adoration, as made a union with another truly reprehensible; but the generous forbearance of Louisa, who knew and pitied the situation of my heart, rendered her society a pleasing consolation; and for several years afterwards, I found my keenest sorrows suspended in a degree; when the report of Joseph’s being attacked by Alzira’s husband, renewed every poignant feeling, and drove me to an act of desperation. This was to make a personal appeal to the king, in favour of a man who so irreparably injured me: but it included the safety of his Marchioness, who, with all her children were equally attainted.
“As the son of Joseph’s favorite minister, I felt assured, if not of success, at least of a patient hearing; but, what were the agonies of my soul, when in answer to my petition, his majesty threw me a small packet, and immediately left the closet. Intimidated by the austerity of his countenance, and fearful for my own safety, I took the mandate, and hastened to my house at Belem; when breaking the seal of that ominous paper, I found several letters, written many years back, in which I had combated my cousin’s opinion of aristocratical, or rather monarchical governments; for at that period he had indulged principles totally opposite, not only to those which proved his ruin, but to that sense of liberty which is so dear even to a Portuguese. Certainly there was nothing in my argument that could detract from the character of a loyalist; yet it was admirably calculated to shew his opinions in a light extremely consequential to his sad situation; and I have no doubt but these unfortunate letters (if sent by the Marquis to his Majesty) were intended to prove that his general principles, although formerly implicated, were inimical to the crime for which he was apprehended. There was, however, a probability that they had been seized among other papers; be that as it may, the consequence was dreadful to me and my unhappy Countess; for I had scarcely left that generous woman, who urged me to secure my safety by flight, than our house was surrounded by the officers of justice, for the express purpose of my apprehension. Shocked almost to desperation, at an appearance so terrible to her gentle spirit, Louisa lost the power of combating her agonizing fears, and soon fell a victim to them.—She languished, drooped, and died!
“Alas! Almeria, how widely extended was that ruin which touched me from so many points; all sharpened, as I may say, by the hand of friendship?—The idol of my soul,—the wife of my rational choice,—both sacrificed to the indulgence of appetite, or the frenzy of ambition.—A father lamenting the fate of an injured son, and that son condemned to wander far from all that could soothe or ameliorate his misfortunes.
In the hurry of my ideas, when thrown at first into such a cruel situation, I recollected a friend who had long forsaken his dearest connexions, and retired to a small hermitage upon the rock. The impulse was decisive; and I hastily determined to seek him. In doing this, I was but little liable to detection: the night was dark, stormy and favourable to my escape; and although much danger was attached to this wild scheme, I luckily gained the rock without any material obstacle; when, knowing every avenue to Zeluco’s recess, I soon gained the stupendous height, but my friend was absent; however, there was no alternative, and the couch presented a desirable refreshment to my wearied frame.
“Restored by sleep to the repossession of those faculties, which were almost bewildered by a change so appalling, I began to consider the necessity of a dress proper to the place and character I was to occupy. How to support my existence was also an important consideration; but these matters were easily regulated. The friendly Zeluco had again returned to his former station in the world, and had left his garments, false beard, and several sorts of dried fruits, wine, &c. to any chance successor: — true, I was grieved to lose the consolation of an ancient friendship, but Zeluco’s abdication was not without its comforts, and immediately assumed the manners and appearance of an hermit. The venerable man who gave me the above particulars, shewed no curiosity at a conduct so abrupt and unaccountable, as mine must have appeared to a common observer; He not only assisted me in the transformation I was so eager to adopt, but instructed me in the best methods to procure provisions and settle myself in Zeluco’s solitude; and then quitted me with a courteous tender of his future services, should I find them necessary to either my comfort or establishment.
“From his intercourse with the world, little as that was, I learned the premature death of my poor Louisa, and the horrid catastrophe that involved Alzira—the noble, the generous Alzira in its dreadful effects. These tidings were too powerful for that reason which had once before given way to the violence of excessive sorrow; and years of an unconscious existence rolled away, unembittered by torturing recollection, unsupported by consolatory endearments! but I was yet to suffer; my career was not nearly finished:—an interval of sense renewed past anguish, and I again awoke to useless retrospection; but how widely different was the scene which first presented itself to my incredulous eye!—No longer confined to cheerless solitude and comfortless meditations,—I saw a father,—a sister, rejoicing over the relative they had mourned as irreparably lost; and in the splendid Casa at Tavora, I could not regret the hermit’s cell. As soon as my faculties were tolerably restored, I found fresh reason to admire the unwearied zeal of my friend on the rock; to whom in the height of my agonizing delirium, I had communicated a number of incidents sufficient to guide him to a knowledge of my family. The Baron was then at Lisbon, to whom the hermit addressed a short note, and he had the satisfaction of restoring me to the bosom of that invaluable parent; but no sooner were these particulars, so stimulative to my gratitude, repeated, than I found fresh cause for regret in the loss of that worthy man; who, in one of his nightly excursions from the rock to visit Lisbon, was run down by a vessel of a superior size to that in which he was, belonging to the hermits, and never heard of more!
* * * * * * *
“As the late dreadful executions had allayed the furious zeal of intolerant persecution against our unhappy family, my father ventured to solicit his king on my behalf, and obtained a repeal of the sentence of banishment which I had previously incurred; but he could not restore—the noble—the innocent victim of his sorded suspicion! Alzira—a wife! a mother! whose principles were honourable, just, and generous—She—but I dare not paint her sufferings;—her death upon the same scaffold, where not an hour before she had witnessed the execution of her husband, her children!—enough, enough have I reflected upon a situation so unprecedented, so repugnant to every feeling of humanity.
“From that era, I experienced the lassitude of despondency; almost the torpor of despair: even the comforts of domestic society failed of its delightful effects;—a residence at Tavora became irksome, and my father, who understood but too well the bent of my mind, urged me to travel; and in the negociation of some particular circumstances with Sir Henry Tillotson, I found a consolation which was wholly unexpected:—circumstances that may at some, perhaps not distant period, communicate equal pleasure to the bosom of those I best love.
“After an acquittal the most honourable to my character, could any being possessed of the smallest perception, suspect any farther evil to arise from a quarter which a faithful minister and a tender father had guarded with the utmost vigilance? That in consequence of Joseph’s sudden demise, new accusations should revive against the family of that confidential friend of his king; and yet such was the prejudice, the infatuation of an illiberal mind, that the Queen and her Uncle sought, as you too well know, to revive the dreadful transactions of 1758; and, although my father’s known integrity, his affecting supplication and defence in behalf of an injured son, ought to have been a sufficient inducement with the suspicious monarch, I was again hunted from society, and the hermit’s cell once more presented a safe assylum; where I had passed only a few months, when in the portrait upon your bosom I beheld the features of Alzira! “And shall I never obtain that mediocrity of feeling which alone can render my situation comfortable?” “No,” replied my empassioned heart, “It is happiness only that can content affections so highly set.” Happiness? what an indefinite term; and how unaptly applied in every situation of life, to the gratifications of short sighted mortals! Long have I supposed the possibility of an attainment so hard to establish, till repeated conviction of its futility has taught me to make humbler calculations of its powers, and discharging every idea of its complete existence upon earth. I have now only to attempt at the procuring a limitted degree of that eternal attribute to others, as the probable means of my feeling its reverberating effect.
From the moment in which I discovered your departure from Lisbon, fresh pursuits agitated my anxious mind! and depending upon the disguise I had assumed, ventured to make a visit to the city, for the purpose of tracing, if I might be so fortunate, the steps of one who had raised in my withering heart, the poignant sensations of mortified affection. For several days my search was fruitless, and to my accidental meeting with a friend by whom I was suddenly recognised, I owed the pleasure of seeing you again. Satisfied of Don Jerome’s integrity, for he it was, whose discernment rendered my caution useless, I ventured to disclose my situation to him, with the motives which had drawn me to Lisbon. Delighted with the opportunity of assisting my researches, that excellent being soon unravelled the mystery of your concealment: and to him I was wholly indebted for a discovery equally important, although acutely distressing.—The son of Alzira,—the only surviving child, as I then supposed, of that suffering martyr, was known to be confined in the state prison,—subject to a criminal prosecution, and in daily expectation of a dreadful fate! This intelligence set afloat every passion of my soul. To see the offspring of Alzira in any tolerable situation would have been extatic, if not permanent bliss; but to see him a prisoner, deprived of the common advantages of humanity, amenable to an arbitrary government for crimes which he could not be guilty of,—crimes that had brought a noble and innocent mother to the scaffold,—what is there of agonies experienced by a feeling heart, which this assurance did not communicate? yet to see him, to embrace him, to procure a relief to his temporary necessities—O! how my bosom throbbed at the very hope of such a gratification! Of Jeronymo Morviedro I knew nothing; but to my generous friend Jerome, that officer had been recently obliged; and when he became acquainted with my eager desire to procure an interview with the prisoner, readily promised to use his interest with Morviedro for that purpose. Alas, Almeria, many days elapsed before I received the joyful intelligence that I might on the following night, hope for a sight of Alzira’s son; and in due time that hope was gratified. Dear injured being! how strong were the emotions thy candid narrative created! That face too, so pale, so emaciated, so interesting, how affectingly did it remind me of *** but in delineating my own feelings, I am giving poignancy to thine.—Forgive me, Almeria, I will be more guarded.
“For several nights I was permitted the sad indulgence of mourning over this devoted youth; and was also happy enough to obtain for him the enjoyment of many local comforts; but he knew not from whom he derived them; on that subject I was inflexibly silent; and soon after this intercourse had taken place, his examination came on; after which event I saw him no more; my visits were prohibited; and I could only hear from Signor Jerome that he was in tolerable health, and that nothing was decided respecting his fate. Thus defeated in the hope I had encouraged of being instrumental to his emancipation, my next step was to protect his Almeria from the evils that surrounded her; but was prevented by a sudden illness, which confined me till your escape was so happily effected. When I had traced you from Juan’s cottage to the Moorish ruin, it was my intention to have accompanied you in your perilous journey; but perceiving your excessive terror when I crossed the apartment, I could not endure to add to it by any further surprise, and hastened on to a little village, where, after writing a short note enclosing those bills which I find you did not receive, I waited the arrival of Manuel, a confidential servant of the Cavalier’s, who had purchased a full suite of Spanish regimentals for me, as a further security against any discovery.—During my short abode at the Cabaret, I formed the plan of sending you to Tavora; and wrote a hasty request to my father, that he would receive you as one whose interest was particularly dear to me; but that there were circumstances in your story, that rendered all communication both improper and dangerous. For this caution I had a formidable motive, which belonged to the mystery of your origin; and as I knew the characters of those to whom you were to be entrusted, apprehended no mischief could result from such a reserve.
“Having so successfully provided for your safety, that of our beloved Frederico became once more the leading business of my life: but still the veil of obscurity enveloped his destiny; and before I could settle any plan for his benefit, Signor Jerome sent me the horrid information that you were betrayed by Polygon into the hands of our infernal tribunal, and was soon expected at Lisbon. Wretched beyond description at this intelligence, I felt every power of invention suspended; for who could oppose a power so tremendous? or, how could I, a being already amenable to civil authority, and depending upon the effort of friendship for concealment, take an active part in your recovery? but while fluctuating between hope and despair, I received some consolation from my indefatigable friend; who advised me to assume the garb of an inquisitor from the Brazils, several of whom were daily expected to supply the place of those who had been promoted to the highest offices of the tribunal at Portugal. He then stated the possibility of remaining undiscovered till some fortunate circumstance should deliver you into my hands. This was an awful attempt, and I shuddered at the idea of making it; but it was worth a trial; and I waited with inexpressible anxiety, the moment when it should be proved. At length the trusty Manuel informed us of your approach! for his master had commissioned him to watch for Polygon’s return, from the time in which he supposed you might arrive. Ah! my love, imagination cannot paint my feelings, when under the disguise of an officer of that inhuman court, I heard your affecting appeals for mercy, and received your inanimate form in my trembling arms. How little did you know that those black disfiguring garments, covered two hearts so determined to effect your deliverance, as those of Jerome Passado and Theodore de Lima!
“Before I conclude this desultory narrative, it will be right to observe, that deceived by the disguise I wore, and awed by that authority which is attached to every one in the Holy Office, I easily obtained the keys of the church, and with the assistance of proper instruments, wrenched open the little door from which you saw us advance; when the Familiars, who now conceived they had fully discharged their duty, departed for their respective habitations; it being within the limits of their rules to leave a prisoner in the custody of those whose turn it might be to officiate for the night, and the closeness of our dress, prevented a discovery of our persons. Our next business was to convey you to the cottage, which was previously prepared for your reception; and this was happily effected by leaving the church at a door that led into an orange grove, beyond which an open chaise was stationed; where I left you in the care of Lisetta, whose dread of inquisitorial vengeance, put her completely into my power; and I had nothing to dread from that quarter.
“Resuming, therefore, the insignia of war, I returned to Signor Jerome; nor ever after visited your little abode, but in the depth of midnight; preserving, however, my formidable appearance to Lisetta, with whom I knew my secret would be safe, so long as it might be necessary to wear the awful habit, which I was well assured would restrain her loquacity. Thus, then, have I rescued an invaluable creature from the malice of a detestable monster; and nothing further remains, but to endeavour to give liberty to her long lamented husband.—Yes, dearest friend, I am bid to hope for his emancipation; and to-morrow, if heaven permit, shall be able to ascertain the time of his release.”
“To-morrow?” repeated Almeria, “Alas, it is past without the gratification which this best of men foretold; but be silent, rebellious heart, nor whisper one doubt of that eternal goodness, which has thus wonderfully delegated his worthy agent to interfere so steadily in our behalf. For such unexampled kindness may he experience the rich reward, even in this life, which conscious goodness must enjoy.”
TRIALS OF LOVE.
UNEQUAL to the task of rallying her spirits, Almeria continued to linger with fond solicitude upon the brief, but pathetic description of the Count’s various sufferings. Imagination carried her back to the scene of Alzira’s death, and that of her father’s, whose title as Duke D’Aveiro she had been told reverted to his offspring; but, upon collateral distinctions she wasted not a thought; Frederico de Lima was the world to her: and she attached every hope of future felicity to the recovery of her husband, the continuation of the Count’s generous friendship, and the enjoyment of Captain Derrick’s society in future. On the description of Alzira’s horrible fate, she dropped the sympathizing tear, and adverting from that to the sorrows of her disappointed lover, sighed bitterly to the painful recollection; and in this tender employment, we shall leave her to follow the Count and Sir Henry Tillotson, whose uneasiness for the fate of their favourite Frederico, was considerably heightened by the intelligence they received from the officer Jeronymo Morviedro; importing, that his unfortunate prisoner (who had been informed of his release from every criminal process) expressed a wish to pass the evening with Morviedro, who added, that happy to comply with the request of a gentleman so much esteemed, he complimented him with an invitation to supper, which was enlivened by a temperate hilarity. That he accompanied the Signor to his apartment, omitting the usual ceremonies of placing centinels, or even fastening those doors which, for the first time, were left thrown back upon their hinges, to admit the refreshing midnight breeze. Upon this circumstance, his prisoner was feelingly eloquent; observing, with a sedate smile, upon the contrast of situation when last he passed the sombre passages, and adverting to his future happy prospects; Jeronymo then left him, and retired immediately to his repose, which he said was interrupted by several smothered groans near his chamber door. Not wholly unacquainted with those expressions of anguish he did not attempt to develope the cause, as he knew that an unhappy man was expected at the castle, but endeavoured to forget the unwelcome sounds; and his first visit on the following morning was to the Signor with an invitation to partake of his breakfast; but upon approaching the bed he was terribly surprised to find it had not been occupied, and the clothes he had worn on the preceding day scattered about the room. That eager to enjoy that liberty which a few days must have ensured, he had taken advantage of the first opportunity which presented, was Jeronymo’s leading idea; but when he considered the improbability of such an attempt without any clothing—another suggestion darted into his mind. What that was, he would not communicate to the anxious friends, and they could only entreat, remonstrate, and almost threaten, without any alleviation of their perplexity.
To return with such evident marks of distress upon their features, which this intelligence created, was only to carry excruciating misery to their unhappy young friend; and as the Count had passed some time without visiting Signor Jerome, he proposed to introduce Sir Henry Tillotson to that gentleman. In their passage to the stately hospital, the Count related several of those instances of true friendship of which Almeria had recently read the detail, and concluding with some little doubt of the Cavalier’s health, arising from an unusual omission of sending Manuel either to the rock, or the small Cabaret, in which Count Theodore passed some of those days antecedent to his release from the criminal process; but while Sir Henry (who felt much gratified by this tribute to such excellence) was admiring the noble edifice in which Signor Jerome, and his valiant contemporaries, were permitted to enjoy the benefit of a sovereign’s favour, and which now rose in all the dignity of ancient architecture before him, the Count bid him notice a window on the first floor, as one that belonged to the Signor’s apartment, but which was closely shut. “I fear he is ill,” said the anxious De Lima, “yet of course I should have heard it from Manuel, or the honest Irishman, whom he has kindly protected from the villain Polygon;” but a new disappointment struck fresh terror to Theodore’s heart. An old porter, whose business it was to admit strangers, no sooner heard our visitors’ errand, than he turned pale, trembled, and hinted his suspicion, that the Signor and his companion were conveyed to the inquisition. “It is now five weeks” said the compassionate veteran, “since that worthy gentleman, with his friend, were taken from hence; and, if I dared to be explicit ***” Here he stopped: “Be explicit,” said the Count, “you have already given a hint that inflicts a cruel pain; say then, is it your opinion, that they are indeed in the power of the most holy tribunal?” “Ah! Signor Capitano,” replied Jackimo, “I see you have a proper sense of the reverence due to that sacred court, therefore I will venture to tell you my reasons for supposing your friends are under ecclesiastical censure.” He then went into a full account of the familiars’ midnight visit, Derrick’s reluctance to go with them, and Manuel’s grief for his master’s departure; ending his unwelcome communication, with an eulogium upon the gentleness, mercy, and candour of a court, which owed this display of its supposed great qualities, to the superstition its tremendous power imposed. The Count could listen no longer to this elaborate display of Jackimo’s eloquence, but impatiently enquired for Manuel. A deep drawn sigh, and significant shake of his head, was the porter’s preface to another tedious and unpleasant information; namely, that Manuel, in consequence of his dread of the inquisition, had left Lisbon on the following morning, nor had ever been heard of since.
This account removed De Lima’s fears for that honest fellow’s safety; as he readily concluded, that the terrified creature had escaped to his father, who was a goatherd in the village of Chamouny, near Geneva; and, as there was now nothing further to be obtained from the communicative porter, our disappointed friends left him, after conjuring him to dispatch the first intelligence he could obtain of Signor Jerome, to the coffee-house where Sir Henry resided; and this command was enforced by the potent argument of a couple of moidores.
That Signor Jerome and Captain Derrick should become subject to the inquisition, was but too easily accounted for by Count de Lima; who had seen in Almeria’s cruel arrest, such a striking proof of Polygon’s power to do evil. It struck him also, that her husband was implicated in the same process, which included the safety of those who had encouraged him in a marriage so detrimental to his character. “Thus, then,” cried Sir Henry, “will those proofs be substantiated, which in point of their futility, had never been submitted to a court of judicature.” “Judicature!” repeated the Count, who could scarcely bear the weight of his own surmises, “that word implies justice, candour, patient investigation;—but can we look for those virtues at a tribunal where confession is extorted by torment; where subtile sophistry assumes the garb of simple truth; where innocence is confounded by the severity of interrogation, and unrelenting cruelty wears the dress of mercy?—No, Sir Henry, although a good catholic, I cannot yet allow such a triumph to the infernal machination of demons. True, I was led to believe as you do, in the evidence of Laura and her husband; till the death of that beloved sister, the Duchess D’Aveiro, threw into my niece Laurana’s hands, a small manuscript written by that unhappy lady, importing the birth of a female infant more than two years prior to the Duke’s execution; who had repeatedly declared, that the honours of his illustrious house, which he scrupled not to aver, was lineally descended from Braganza’s race, should never descend by the female line (for the Duchess had already presented him with a daughter) to his successors. Intimidated by this assurance, which, as her Grace’s pregnancy again became apparent, was daily impressed upon her maternal heart, she trusted to the Marchioness de Tavora for the management of an affair so important to her own, and her child’s happiness; and fearful of the Duke’s resentment, should he be disappointed in his hopes, she placed a confidence in the excellent Alzira, and was no ways deceived. A plan was thought of, that carried on the face of it apparent success; much of which was owing to the intrigues of De Tavora and D’Aveiro, who, involved in the fabrication of their own treasonable schemes, left the ladies at full liberty to act for themselves; for my sweet Alzira was also in the Duchess’s situation.
“They were permitted to reside together in the Moorish palace, so well known to our Almeria. It was then resolved to bring about a change of offspring, should that be found necessary; but to deceive the Duke, if both were females, they well knew would be extremely difficult; however they were determined to attempt it: and as the event justified this caution, it called for an innocent exertion of their scheming talents. The Marchioness produced a still born son, which by dint of proper management, was lamented by D’Aveiro as the deceased heir of his title and estates; for my lovely disappointed sister, whose fears were unfortunately justified by the birth of a daughter, had transferred the sweet undisguised anxieties of a fond mother, to her amiable friend; and saw her smiling infant acknowledged by that lady, with these alleviations to her disappointment, that the Duke was spared much useless vexation; for in the event of his supposed heir’s death, there was no foundation for bitter reproach, or the indulgence of passions which knew no bounds, and the regret for his loss was by no means permanent.
“How Laura’s husband could mention the unfortunate Almeria as Duke D’Aveiro’s heir, could no otherwise be accounted for than by the hurry of his spirits, which might occasion the mistake; for she had been committed to his care by the Marchioness as her own offspring, though such a motive seems hardly justifiable; be that as it may, the Count still adhered to his belief that the Duchess’s manuscript was authentic, which concluded with an affecting description of her own sufferings, when obliged to witness the departure of a little creature, to whom she was bound by every tie, which the horrid death of its father, the affection she had ever borne the Duke, and her tenderness for his desolate infant could strengthen.”
This account, so forcibly delivered, and so highly authenticated, contributed to unsettle the Baronet’s belief; and he began to think the infamy, horror, and grief, which the knowledge of such a crime must bring upon the wretched pair, should be unknown to them if possible. While concerting several plans for the entire developement of this complex story, they thought not of time; but the approach of night, as it stole over the city, reminded them of Mrs. Cleveland’s uncomfortable situation. Lady Tillotson, to whom after their visit to the hospital, they had immediately returned, proposed an evening visit to the cottage; to this Sir Henry most readily consented, and that amiable woman had the pleasure to see a gleam of delight animate her young favourite’s countenance, as she received Sir Henry’s cordial salute, when he entered the porch, where she sat to imbibe the sea breeze which had sunk into whispering softness: but upon the Count’s features her eyes were bent with anxious solicitude,—the name of Frederico trembled on her lip; while checked by her dread of the Baronet’s severity, she dared not give utterance to the question which her affectionate heart meditated. Count Theodore pitied the conflict she endured, but he could not relieve it; and he was happy to leave her to the society of her friends, who engaged to pass the night at the cottage, and as much of the following day as should occur before his return. He then departed in the firm resolution of once more hazarding his life, if less would not do, to put an end to the uncertainty which rendered his favourite so unhappy.
It was his first intention to procure, if possible, an admission to the hall of the inquisition, during the time set apart for the prisoner’s examinations; when, he thought, there was more than a chance, if his friends were confined there, of seeing one or perhaps both of them; but there were insuperable difficulties in his way. He had already exposed himself to the hazard of discovery, by imposing himself upon the familiars as an inquisitor: to go again, therefore, in disguise, was perfectly impracticable; and there was only one very improbable alternative to abide by.
We have already, in our description of the judges of that court, described one as particularly indulgent to Derrick upon his commitment: of this man’s character, the Count had formerly known something extremely to his honour; but it was not till since Almeria’s emancipation, that he knew of his delegation to that sacred office. Upon a knowledge of Father Theobald in his former capacity of confessor to Baron de Lima, there was nothing to build; as the well known secrecy of the tribunal of which he was a worthy member, forbid any advances upon every subject relative to it; yet it was worth a trial: and Count de Lima passed a tedious night in arranging a plan for the attainment of his purpose. To obtain an interview with the venerable Father, who resided in the great square, was his first object, and he presented himself before the inquisitor in his real character.
Rejoiced to meet with an individual of a family, for which he retained a sincere respect, the holy man received his visitor with a frankness that characterised the gentleman and the friend; while Theodore de Lima contemplated the urbanity of his countenance with a keen regret, and inwardly lamented the loss of so many virtues to the world, which his profession, as an inquisitor, he feared must necessarily stifle. However, depending upon the existence of such of them as his short experience in the art of tormenting had not yet destroyed, Theodore ventured, after explaining his own situation, to beg his Reverence’s attention to a circumstance which occupied his every thought: “Trust my discretion, dear Father,” he added, upon observing a shade of seriousness on the priest’s features, “I know your holy profession, and the reserve attached to it, nor will offer the smallest violence to your integrity, by soliciting any improper concession to my request.” “Be brief then, Count,” he replied “It is almost nine, and an affair of importance demands my presence at that hour.” “Every affair belonging to a court so solemn must be important to its officers; nor will I tax your patience further than to ask if the case of ***” Theodore stopped; for the father assumed a stern severity of aspect, and forbade him to proceed, “yet, only one word,” continued the Count, “say only, is my unhappy friend, Jerome Passado, to be examined this day, and may I be admitted, merely as a hearer of his cause?” “Rash man,” returned Father Theobald, “thy request is presumptuous.” “It would be so, Reverend Sir, if I were not speaking to the ancient Baron de Lima’s friend.”—“Enough, Count, I feel your inference; I understand the nature of your appeal; it is a claim upon my gratitude for past favours, and shall be properly appreciated: but, if you knew the value of a sacrifice which will most probably lessen my consequence in the sacred court to which I belong, you would be more cautious in exacting it; at present I can hear no more.”—Perceiving the Count’s agitation, for he felt considerably hurt at this reply,—“Go sir” he continued, “and wait in the church till you see some one enter the small well-known door that leads to the prison; give him this paper, and follow his directions.”
The priest then with a courteous salute quitted his apartment, and left the half- gratified De Lima to congratulate himself upon the conquest he had gained over a judge of that dreadful office. He then adjourned to the fatal edifice, but had not waited long, when a familiar presented himself, took the ticket in silence, and pointing to the Count to follow, closed the little door upon them both, with a caution that prevented the smallest sound.
Although our benevolent adventurer had none
of those chilling fears, those justifiable terrors which generally agitate the
frame of an implied criminal, when he treads the dismal passages that lead to a
prison, whose walls he beheld for the first time, yet he could not repress the
thrilling sensations of a feeling heart, as he passed by the doors of those
apartments that possibly contained the dear friends for whom he had hazarded so
much; nor did the perfect silence, which remained undisturbed even by their own
noiseless footsteps, contribute to interrupt his painful meditations. Every
lamp that he passed, as they winked in sullen gloom above his head, seemed as
if lighting him to untried horrors; and indeed he was ready to accuse himself
of temerity for thus braving the resentment of those, whose power being
superior to Father Theobald’s, might make
him repent the confidence he had placed in that once esteemed confessor! but
these doubts were soon interrupted by the termination of his subteranean
journey; and he entered a court so often, and so ably described, with every
mark of awful astonishment. Indeed so great was his confusion, that he found
some difficulty in obeying the signal of his conductor, to place himself among
several by-standers, whose appearance bespoke them to be employed in some inferior
department; nor could recognise even the appearance of Father Theobald, till he
had acquired a greater power of recollection; but this stillness of the
faculties, if we may venture so to stile it, was soon interrupted by an address
from the grand inquisitor to a prisoner, who at that instant advanced towards
the secretary’s table, which was placed just before the tribunal. He was
attended upon each hand by an officer, his attitude erect and manly; his face,
only a part of which could be seen by the Count, was pale and thin; and his eye
seemed bent with modest firmness upon his interrogator. After the judge had
gone through a little introductory ceremony, relative to the mercy and justice
of a court which had flourished for more than three hundred years,
upon the basis of those virtues that were its entire support, he stopped till
several prisoners were brought forward, all of whom were examined by Theodore
with an eager eye and apprehensive heart.
TOO intent upon the interesting appearance of the prisoner before him, for the contemplation of common objects, Count de Lima had no eye for those who ranged behind their unhappy companion, whose whole figure reminded him so strongly of his lamented Alzira; and this idea gathered strength from the opinion he had formed, that Almeria’s husband was actually an inmate of that horrid den.—In the contour of his countenance there was a particular resemblance; from a transient view he caught of his features, Theodore made no scruple to decide upon his identity, and he felt an indiscribable desire to hear his voice, as that would be a positive evidence of what he already believed. During this state of anxiety, his attention was fixed by the Grand Inquisitor, who solemnly addressing the object of Theodore’s meditation, by the title of De Lima, cleared up the smallest doubt which might occasionally arise, and increased the agitation of his heart. In the course of a charge that involved the accused in such a cruel disgrace, many expressions occurred which argued such a want of delicacy, even common humanity in the first judge, as produced a variety of painful emotions in the countenance of his unfortunate victim, who dared not give any oral interruption to so shocking an accusation; but, although his prudence pointed out the danger of revolting against the established usages of that despotic court, there was one present who despised the feeble claim of that necessary virtue; for as the inquisitor was proceeding to paint in the severest terms, a crime which (by the way) he described as more derogatory to the importance of the holy church, than even to a more Sacred Power, and loading the supposed criminal with unprecedented reproach; owing, as Theodore supposed, to a former vigorous defence—he was suddenly interrupted by one of the prisoner’s in waiting, who had unthinkingly advanced within hearing; and who, notwithstanding his former ill success as a pleader, ventured once more to try his powers of conviction; and in an accent somewhat checked by fear, assured the Grand Judge he was upon a wrong tack, “Becaase why, owld jontlemin,” added he, and bowing with an awkward air of respect, “the thing is impossible, so that it can’t be.” “Silence! Retire!” cried the secretary, who sat near him; but Derrick perceiving he was not heard by him for whom he had meditated a severe remonstrance, raised his tone to a higher pitch, and to the astonishment of all present, thus continued: “By my sowl, now then I will be heard;—and I will indeed, my fine Reverendissimo!” again bending to the tribunal, “What should a man marry his sister for, when there’s such plenty of wives to be had?—To be sure it wasn’t so in the time of the owld Patrick’s? but now, indeed, times are altered! Another thing, my-lord chief justice, if that pretty creature was here, face to face, you wouldn’t say so much behind her back, that you wouldn’t, indeed and indeed, one glance from her sparkling eye, would soon spoil all your musty arguments, and your own withered chaps would—” As if the judge was willing to try how far the Irishman’s temerity would carry him, he sat profoundly silent, till the last observation roused his wrath to a dangerous pitch, and Derrick’s eloquence was stopped with a command to “bear him to the torture!” two executioners immediately advanced to obey a despot, who was not to be offended without ruin to the culprit; and Derrick once more repented the indulgence of a talent in a place where it could not shew itself to advantage. The idea of what he had seen in the torture room, darted upon him with an excruciating pang, and shot through his joints with the effect of electricity; but his evident simplicity, and that generous attachment which no circumstance could lesson, created in the benevolent Father Theobald’s bosom, an interest of a most serviceable kind; and the good man, after nodding to the executioners to suspend their business, entered into a whispering conference with his coadjutor, whose frown as he listened, deepened into the sternest severity; which encreased the awkward distress that distorted Patrick’s rueful countenance.
Father Theobald, in a glance he threw towards Derrick, perceived the effect of that petrifying frown; and determined, if possible, to conquer a resentment, which himself could not wholly condemn, (considering the offence) he exerted every effort in his power to obtain a suspension of the fatal decree; and succeeded so well, as to be authorized to stop any further process: and then sternly forbade our almost breathless Captain, to offer the slightest interruption to the court, under a certain penalty of penal punishment. There was something so sweetly impressing in the voice which gave this command, (added to our infatuated hero’s dread of incurring the said penalty) that he made no difficulty of secretly vowing entire obedience; and he retired to the farthest limits of his station, till a fresh occasion called him into the awful circle.
When sufficiently recovered from the uneasy astonishment Derrick’s conduct had excited, and during an interval of silence that succeeded it, Count Theodore contemplated the sad reverse of that poor fellow’s case, whom he had formerly beheld in a situation which did honour to his feelings as a man of the highest moral character, when he discovered him upon the rock, weeping over the apparently lifeless corpse of a simple youth. True, there was in Patrick’s features, such contradictory sensations, as almost to excite an equal mixture of ridicule and pity.—All that wild animation which once laughed in his eye, and arose to it with a transient gleam, while so injudiciously offending his powerful judge, seemed nearly annihilated, and its expression supplied by fear and indignation; his lips which had not yet profited by those rigid rules that impose continual silence, still quivered with the bitter remonstrance as it burst from his heart, convulsing them, as it were, with the violence of restraint. His garb was such as might be supposed to belong to one who had not known the comfort of a change, during his abode in a place by no means remarkable for the delicacy of its inhabitants; nor did his countenance receive any additional grace from the deprivation of a beard of three week’s growth; but with all these disadvantages, there was a trait about him that forced itself upon a generous heart;—that excessive generosity of spirit, that ardent adherence to the cause of friendship, which had induced him to neglect his worldly interest, and defend his cause with a vigour so imprudent, as might end in death, were proofs of goodness that lost not their weight with the Count; who beheld with admiration, his almost imperceptible advances towards Frederico, when his examination was again renewed.
To follow the business of a court so iniquitous, would be both tedious in repetition, and repulsive to those liberal spirits, who cannot enter with patience into the wretched chicanery of prejudiced villainy. Suffice it then, to say, that Theodore de Lima beheld the examination close, without any opportunity of making himself known to either of the prisoners; whose answers, if we except our bewildered Irishman, although clear, concise, and expostulatory, procured them no relief, and the cause was put off to another hearing. Dissatisfied and enraged, the Count knew not how to proceed; but, at all events, he determined upon a further trial of Almeria’s patience: and after communicating his disappointment, with Derrick’s incorrigible conduct, to Lady Tillotson, whose presence he previously requested, he once more left that venerable lady to the task of supporting the spirits of her young friend; whom she gratified by an assurance of not leaving her till her fate was decided; for she had satisfied Sir Henry respecting her resolution to avoid any dangerous conversation with Mrs. Cleveland.
After several serious debates upon the dreary aspect of Frederico’s affairs, it was settled that Count Theodore should again wait upon Father Theobald, and relate to him the whole of those circumstances that related to the suspected origin of Mrs. Cleveland, her husband’s supposed affinity to the Tavora family, Polygon’s intrigues, his treachery, and in short every incident relative to the unhappy pair, which he conceived necessary to their advantage. In consequence of this resolution, a message was sent to the inquisitor, importing a wish to know when his Reverence would be at leisure to receive the anxious Count; to which a very polite invitation was returned, requesting that gentleman’s company to dinner on the following day. From gaining a point so important, Sir Henry argued much good to their cause; and the cheerfulness of his conversation, when visiting the cottage during Theodore’s absence, contributed to divert that anxiety, which communicated its effect to his young friend’s voice and features.
While the worthy Theodore is engaged in a task so arduous as unsettling the prejudices of an inquisitor, we will attempt to investigate the mystery of Frederico’s fresh commitment. It would be unnecessary to paint that pure delight which filled his soul, when told he was once more empowered to recover the felicity which had been so long suspended; or to dwell with prolixity on that horror of mind he endured, to find his sweet expectations blighted.—Sunk into a repose, the soundest he had experienced since his confinement, he was suddenly awakened by a strong light that waved before his eyes, and occasioned him to jump from his bed in the greatest astonishment. At first he could not distinguish the garb of those fatal disturbers, who had advanced in a foreboding stilness to the side on which he lay; till commanded to get ready with silence and expedition, he gazed in terror upon his midnight visitors, whose appearance drove every doubt from his mind respecting their employment. Not all that patience, resignation, and fortitude, which seldom deserted him in a variety of trying scenes, could stand the test of this cruel shock; and he even dared, like poor Derrick, to question their power and defy their resentment; but these veterans in office, too well understanding the extent of that power, made no scruple of using it in a cruel degree; for the groans Morviedro had heard, were occasioned by a severe stroke their unhappy prisoner received, to bring him to his reason, as they chose to stile it, who then made no more resistance, and he was conveyed to his dungeon without the poor satisfaction of guessing wherefore.
To this last barbarous transaction, the wretched Polygon had unknowingly contributed, by his ignorance of those arts, that deep and subtle finesse, which neither the policy of the designing, nor the innocence of a helpless prisoner could detect. Enough, therefore, was gathered from his evidence against Almeria, to criminate Frederico; and upon his acquittal from civil censure, that unfortunate Cavalier became subjugated to a court still more terrible than that he had just escaped.
As it was impossible for Theodore de Lima to clear up with certainty, the obscurity that hung upon this part of Frederico’s fate, he hoped to learn it from the good father; to whom, after the cloth was drawn, and they were left together, he ventured to make his intended communication. Theobald listened with a countenance expressive of various feelings;—jealous of the dignity of his profession, as a member of his office, and doubtful of the extent to which his power might reach, of listening to this tale, connected, as it seemed, with the proceedings of that tribunal, he was several times upon the point of silencing his eager visitor; but, insensibly, as the story became more interesting, this reluctance to hear it decreased. Theodore, who watched every change in the inquisitor’s countenance, observed the flush which now glowed in his generally pallid cheek,—now faded into an unusual paleness, with a full hope that he should touch every chord in his generous heart, by a recital so simple and so true; but when he related his own reasons for supposing his wretched friends were not criminally allied, and touched with a skilful hand, the description of their various sufferings, the penetrated Father concealed his face with his garment, as if loth to betray a weakness which, in particular instances, exalts rather than degrades humanity. After a pause which De Lima could only account for as the effect of inquisitorial strictness, he ventured to ask the Father’s opinion of a case so singularly affecting; concluding with an earnest petition for his advice as to the means most likely—to penetrate the important mystery,—to benefit his unhappy friend,—and, to punish the primary cause of such extended mischief. Awakened from a painful cogitation by this candid appeal to his judgment, Father Theobald attempted to assume an air of reproof and severity, as though offended with an address that struck at the sacred character he was determined to maintain; but it would not do: there was an interest in every thing relative to Count Theodore’s subject, that demanded instant attention, and a lenient hand to manage. Giving up, therefore, every effort to preserve a magisterial dignity, that truly good man recovered his usual placidity of voice and manner; declaring “he never experienced a more awkward situation than the ground on which he stood, if considered merely as an officer of justice; but when the claims which distress of such a nature imperiously force themselves upon the sympathizing heart, are added to considerations so opposite, the difficulty of reconciling them becomes nearly insurmountable. You,” continued he, “must be sensible of all this; as also how incompetent my power is to the matter in question. Already have I gone such lengths in favour of your friends, as to produce an unequivocal reprimand from my holy brethren. Indeed, they pretend to find no precedent for such mistaken lenity; so that any farther exertion on my part might bring on ecclesiastical censure, and perhaps produce a suspension of my functions, which would effectually prevent any future attempt to serve you; therefore, as a judge of criminal causes, I must go with my contemporaries in their decisions. I see, and can appreciate the value of that tear, which this declaration extorts; but even as a man of benevolence—as one who would go to the extent of the civil law to procure a favourable judgment for the innocent, I cannot (at present, however) relieve your anxiety; yet will venture to promise, that no judicial sentence shall be executed without your previous information; and as an instance of my sincerity, I will dare to confess that a day is fixed for the final issue of this singular cause. Fail not, therefore, to attend daily, as you did yesterday in St. Dominick’s church, till the important event is decided. You are astonished at the freedom with which I have at last expressed myself; but you are not to wonder at the seeming facility I have adopted in dropping a character so impervious to the attacks of mistaken humanity; or, that mercy, which in our courts is founded only upon impartial justice, should take the lead in an inquisitor’s bosom. To-morrow perhaps—but, O sacred Dominick, forgive me! yet, O! what events may hang upon the discovery that may then take place?—Pardon me, Count de Lima, I am wrong; I am too unguarded for my holy employment; time alone can give coherence to the reference:—for the present you must excuse any farther altercation upon this subject.”
His interested guest understood the action that accompanied these words, and after sincerely confessing his obligation to Father Theobald, for his courageous interference, arose to depart with sentiments for which he knew no name, so complex were the subjects that gave them birth; and he retired under a strange impression of seeing every mystery, indefinable as they might then appear, completely developed through the means of the inquisitor.
In obedience to that excellent priest’s request, Count Theodore presented himself for several days at the low door in St. Dominick’s, which led to the dungeons, and was constantly conducted by an officer, to the place set apart for those who were allowed to hear the examinations; but no gratification followed this indulgence: neither Signor Jerome, Frederico, or our unlucky Irishman appeared, and he began to fear for the lives of those unfortunate prisoners, as well as doubt the integrity of Father Theobald. To lessen, if possible, the weight of those suspicions which daily strengthened, the Count, after a day of fruitless expectation, went to pass an evening with his cottage friends, who received him with very different, yet affectionate sensations. Determined to preserve an appearance of tranquillity, Almeria struggled with her ungovernable feelings to maintain it; and assisted by Lady Tillotson, she contrived to give the conversation a cheerful turn. By one incautious observation—one reference to Frederico’s situation, Count Theodore could have destroyed every trait of this assumed fortitude; but happy to encourage the effort, he strove to contribute his endeavour, by chusing the most animated topic to strengthen the resolution he admired; and several hours stole away unembittered by useless apprehensions. During an argument upon the uncertainty of human happiness, several opinions were received and rejected by the experienced trio: Mrs. Cleveland, who felt herself encouraged by her valuable friend’s consoling statement of a subject he had formerly rejected as incompetent to the demands of human nature, ventured to ask his motive for such an evident change of sentiment; declaring from long experience, in the fallacy of high expectations, that permanent happiness was not, nor ever could be, the lot of mortals; who (so changeable in themselves) could never make that stationary, which depended upon their own unsettled principles, tempers, and dispositions for existence.—
“By my sowl now, and you are right, my swate honey,” exclaimed a voice that struck every one present with astonishment bordering upon terror, “for I am an owlder man than any of you, and yet I have niver had a visit from the phantom without her sure companion Disappointment, close in her wake!” “Captain Derrick! is it possible!” cried the Count, who first recovered the power of recollection, “It cannot surely be, that he is liberated without a miracle?” “Indeed now, my dear, it is not only possible, but very true though, that I have escaped from those divils in grain; who think nothing at all, at all, of frying, broiling, cutting, and carbonating every unlucky hound, who dares only tell them a piece of his mind.—A parcel of blood-suckers, with their forks and their wheels, their stewpans and their gridirons, first laying an embargo on our tongues, and then taking away our breath to make us speak!”
“It might be as well, Mr. Derrick,” said the smiling Sir Henry, by whom he was accompanied, “if that said embargo had continued a few minutes longer, without incurring the penalty you mention.” “O, let him talk,” said the enraptured Mrs. Cleveland, who that moment received a kiss from lips distained with the Virginia plant, and which she almost as heartily returned; “for though I am at a loss to guess at your meaning, and indeed have often been puzzled to decypher it, yet I know a little patience in your hearers will be rewarded at last: at any rate, I am free to congratulate myself upon this joyful meeting.” “Joyful! yes, to be sure; and yet, if you knew what I have suffered for you and—that is, what I might have suffered,”—“Be silent, sir,” cried the enraged Sir Henry, as he violently drew him from his seat, where he had just placed himself, “you know not what you say; I entreat you will change the subject.” “O, for pity’s sake, let him proceed,” said Almeria, “he hints at his confinement in the inquisition, I know he does; and indeed his appearance confirms it.—Say then; my poor Derrick, have you really been amenable to that awful power?” “Mendable? why truly, jewel, there is enough to mend in the owld Harridans, before they can be fit for sarvice; but as to my mending them d’ye see, sure now, and I would be a true tinker to their crazy carcases; for I would make twelve holes before I would caulk one, if they were to come in my way.” “O then, it is too true that my dear friend has been subject to their barbarous tyranny.” “Tyranny? O yes, and that I have indeed; and so has ***—why, what the divil do you mane, Mr. Signor what d’ye call ‘em, do you think I am about to tell a lie, that you pull, and twist, and hug one like a Greenland bear! If so be you are a man, prove it; I am not afraid of a pistol: or if you like an Irish set-too in the English stile, I’ll meet you upon any ground in Portugal!”
Mrs. Cleveland, whose excessive agitation had rendered her nearly insensible to Derrick’s dangerous allusions respecting her husband’s imprisonment, felt extremely astonished at Count de Lima and Sir Henry’s endeavours to prevent the Captain’s usual volubility, and warmly interfered in his behalf; conjuring them to excuse the effect of unguarded affection, which she was sorry to observe, had already exceeded the bounds even of natural politeness: and then addressing Patrick, who had begun to comprehend the motive for such a rough interruption, and looked extremely foolish, she told him “his conduct not only claimed forgiveness, but reward;” and then tried to reconcile them to each other, by observing, “that before she would claim any further gratification of her anxious curiosity, she would venture to present that gentleman to him,” taking a hand of the attentive Count, “as her protector in distress, her companion in solitude, her adviser in the most critical exigencies of her life, and one whom she was bound to love, reverence, and esteem.” Derrick had hardly patience to wait the conclusion of this eulogium, so eager was he to make reparation for his violence, as well as to learn the name of the Count, which, however, he forgot to ask,—grasping, therefore, the hand she offered, he loudly exclaimed “O by my conscience, honey, and I’ll reverence him too; though he wouldn’t let me spake till I held my tongue.—You’ll pardon me then, Signor, for being so rude; but faith now, when a woman’s the subject, with her flag of distress hoisted, her sails all aback, and ready to founder upon the rocks of treachery, it was always little Derrick’s way to give her a lift if possible; and now as this poor thing has been pining and whining after her husband till she looks like a parboiled turnip, why I was willing d’ye see, just to set her heart at ease, by telling her where he is.” “Stupid fool,” muttered the Count, who saw the consequence of this incautious speech upon Mrs. Cleveland, which was delivered too rapidly to be prevented; and then raising his voice “One word with you, Captain, in the garden; I will not detain you; do step out with me?”—“Not for kingdoms,” cried the frantic woman, “till he has eased my anxious heart, by saying when and where he left my beloved Frederico?” “Why in the inquisition, swate one; sure now, and you didn’t know that!—aye, and your friend Jerome too. There they are in the divil’s limbo; but niver heed, lovey, for I mane to scale the walls of that subteranean dungeon with a crew of Irish boys; and I warrant our good shillalahs will soon batter that Pandemonium of infernal spirits about their ears!”
“O merciless!” cried the wretched Almeria, “this is indeed the very climax of misery! but tell me,” and she rose with a wild and maddening gesture,—“tell me, I conjure you, what demon has glutted his insatiate revenge by a punishment so horrible? Say, Sir Henry, you who have ever been an enemy to our connexion, you, perhaps can tell me who to thank for this completion of our sorrows?” “Patience, my love,” said Lady Tillotson, “you are unjust in you application, and injure one of your tenderest protectors, by an address which conveys such a cruel suspicion.” “Pity me, dear madam,” said the poor Almeria, shedding tears as she spoke, “I would not be harsh in my conjectures, but this is an evil of such magnitude, as to deprive me of common candour.—Sir,” she continued, turning from her venerable friend, and speaking to the Count, “do you confirm the dreadful intelligence? Am I indeed doomed to experience the worst of tortures, through the medium of a husband’s sufferings; and if so, cannot those sufferings be lightened by my participation? but no: you turn away; you weep; you are all affected!—Generous friends, how soothing is this attention to a hapless woman: yet to me, to my lost Frederico, it bodes no good.—It puts a negative upon every hope of seeing him emancipated by your efforts.—Well then,” and she heaved a mournful sigh, “we must submit to the merciless decrees of a savage court. My kind Derrick be comforted: you meant well, but was mistaken in the means; another time I may thank you for a fuller communication; but now, I feel unequal to a farther shock, and will retire, if Lady Tillotson will indulge me with her company.”—
She then, after affectionately wiping the tears from the rugged cheek of her self-accusing informer, who was rendered speechless from a violent emotion, departed to humble herself before that Being, who alone could reconcile her to a lot so terrible.
THE pathetic silence which this dreaded discovery had occasioned, remained uninterrupted till Derrick began an awkward apology for the mischief his indiscretion had produced, by declaring “he only meant to comfort the poor little sowl, in letting her know her husband was safe, and so near her; but women, for the matter of that, were but fair-weather vessels—mere pleasure-boats: could make no way but with the wind right astern; for if a slight squall overtook them on the starboard tack, down went their colours; their gingerbread work was damaged; smack went their rudder, and the poor hulk was left to drift upon the shoal of despair.”
To this mixture of self defence and technical allusion, no answer was returned; till the Count, who had never ceased wondering at Derrick’s astonishing appearance among them, solicited an explanation of it from his own mouth, and immediately received the following account: namely, “That after his unlucky attempt to convince an inquisitor of cruelty and injustice, he had been confined in a worse dungeon than the Black Hole at Calcutta, of recent memory,—without the means of amusing himself; and as to a drop of grog, or even a comfortable quid, St. Patrick himself couldn’t be worse off, had he been under their clutches; becase why, the owld divil who had thought proper to punish a man for spaking his mind a bit, could only have mulct him of that, any more than another man. Well, sure now,” continued this strange narrator, “I began to wish for a book, or”—“A book, Captain, and without light!” “O, niver heed an Irish blunder, Sir Henry, you put me out with your untimely remark: what signifies what a man wishes for when he is shut up with himself? However, I didn’t see a christian sowl but a poor cat, who came in with the man that brought my Olla Podrida, as he called it, a nasty mess, and only fit for a ratgut Portuguese. Well, I kept poor puss, and shared my little abundance with her; which by the way she couldn’t see”—“And yet you saw the cat!” observed Count Theodore, who could not be displeased with this artless son of nature. “Poh! poh! Mr. Signor, if you put a man so out of his way, how is he to get to his journey’s end?”
There was truth in this observation, and the Count nodded assent; while encouraged to pursue his tale, Derrick thus went on: “Well now, I think it was about midnight yesterday, when I heard my door unbar, and saw a lamp, with a piece of paper, thrust in by somebody, who immediately retired. O then and to be sure, I didn’t take up the paper and read it directly, the contents of which made my heart jump; for they towld me, I was to wait till somebody opened the door again, when I was to go before my conductor, who would lead me out of the prison; and when I had got free of the church, I was to go to St. Peter’s Street, in the last house of which I should meet an acquaintance. Well, it was soon after this, I heard the bar let down, and one of the gaolers beckoned me out. By my conscience, I was glad enough to get out of Lucifer’s den; but when I thought of the Signor and poor Frederico, my courage failed, and I asked if they were not to go too? O how the surly Cerberus grumbled, and bid me be quiet, if I wished to avoid the punishment of the rack; O then I tried to howld my tongue, till I got to St. Peter’s Street, where I saw this jontlemin, who towld me where I might find my swate child; but indeed and indeed now, I didn’t mane to distress her so.”
“We believe you, Captain,” said the Count, “and can readily pardon an error grounded upon mistaken tenderness. At present, I believe it will be necessary to adjourn to our respective abodes; and to-morrow, the Baronet with myself, will consider of every means that can give consolation to our unhappy young friends.” Somewhat reconciled to himself by this assurance, the Captain accompanied Sir Henry to his lodgings, with more satisfaction than he would otherwise have done, had not that gentleman by his evident affection for Mrs. Cleveland, conquered the prejudice he formerly entertained against him; for in their walk to the cottage, the Baronet had dwelt with such an affectionate energy upon her misfortunes, and her merits, that Derrick absolutely embraced—alias, hugged him for it.
Too much involved in the contemplation of Frederico’s impending cause to think of rest, Count Theodore adjourned to the banks of the Tagus; where he lost for a minute, every idea of mortal calamities, while admiring the sublime effect of a rising sun, as it threw its glorious beams across that noble river, and tinting every object on its western shores with vivid beauty; but the scene soon faded, or became irksome to the eye, as he beheld St. Dominick’s portentous spires glittering in the distance; for beneath its deep foundation, was confined the wretched Frederico, and his unhappy friend Jerome. Returning, therefore, to his comfortless meditation, the strange deliverance of Derrick occupied his thoughts: certainly, he could not even suppose that it was brought about by Father Theobald, who so lately professed his inability to render the poor prisoners any essential service. Yet this was exactly the case; for that humane man, who dreaded the consequence of Patrick’s simplicity, had dared to liberate him under a certain impression that he was innocent of the charge so maliciously laid against him. To do this, it was necessary for the good priest to assume the disguise of an inferior gaoler, which his authority in that place rendered easy to be procured; nor did he hazard much by this manoevre, as he chose the opportunity of effecting his design, when the attendants and familiars were fully employed. If it be asked why Signor Frederico and the Cavalier were not equal subjects of his attention, we must refer to Father Theobald’s motives, as they will soon develope themselves; for the present, Derrick’s escape answered his benevolent purpose, and he quieted his own apprehensions of a discovery, with the assurance, that none of those who occasionally supplied the dungeon with provisions, would bring a certain punishment upon themselves by owning he had escaped their vigilance, at least so he tried to believe. It was also in his power to account for an inferior prisoner’s absence, at least till the cause was decided, when some favourable circumstance might arise to cover the deception.
Employed by a multitude of erroneous conjectures, Count Theodore saw the hour advance at which he was to attend his usual hopeless appointment; and after a slight refreshment at his abode, he once more entered a prison so abhorrent to his soul.—When, contrary to the awful solitude of those gloomy regions, he beheld an air of busy importance in its voluntary inhabitants; several of whom were appointed to conduct such of the supposed criminals, who were on that day to receive their final sentence, to the spacious hall. Those deep, but low sighs, which stole from bosoms agonized with inexpressible fears, caused a torturing sensation in that of Count de Lima; and the countenances of two prisoners, as they passed, leaning upon their conductors, brought to his anguished mind all he had heard of remorseless inquisitorial vengeance; but pity was useless, nay, dangerous under that roof, and he hastened from a sight so inimical to his fortitude.
From all he could collect, it appeared as if that day was indeed to be the epoch of Signor Frederico and his companion’s fate. There was an air of solemn dignity in the extra ornaments of the tribunal, the judges, and superior officers, that bespoke an unusual distinction; even the most holy Father Padrillo San Cervantes, Grand Inquisitor, and Chief Judge of Criminal Causes, seemed to gather consequence from his situation, which reflected a proportionate degree of importance upon his third in command, who was his servile copy and officious admirer. Every feature of this mean adulator, seemed as if cast in the same mould with his haughty contemporary, whose proud unbending aspect, formed a striking contrast to the mild dispassionate countenance of Father Theobald; which, during the ceremony of calling over the names, of such as were to receive sentence, betrayed a degree of emotion not unnoticed by the Count. When that of Derrick was announced, he was represented as being too ill from the severity of his confinement, to quit his dungeon; and the court went on to finish the business relative to Signor Frederico and his friend, both of whom were ordered to approach the tribunal; when the same questions were put, with very little variety of manner, as Theodore had listened to upon a former occasion. The answers of Signor Jerome, which were perfectly clear and tended to exculpate him from every part of the crime laid to his charge, were admitted as sufficient to exonerate him from censure; and Frederico, who had attended the issue of his friend’s examination with evident anxiety, no sooner heard the important fiat which set the Cavalier at liberty, than he lifted up his eyes in pious gratitude, and silently pressed Jerome’s hand as he retreated to make room for that persecuted man; who then advanced with an air of mild resignation, to hear a decree which must set aside the painful suspense he had so long endured.
It had been that devoted Signor’s employment for several preceding days, to prepare himself for the approaching trial.—Fervent prayer, cool investigation of a cause for which he could not account, tender recommendations of his beloved Almeria to the protection of heaven, and a strict enquiry into the state of his mind as to its particular frame, had rendered the intermediate time less dreadfully tedious than might be expected; nor did the solemn intimation, that he was expected in the hall, raise such sickening emotions as might have been supposed. Conscious, from some indefinable motive, that he was innocent of the heinous charge, he felt no difficulty in forming a defence, grounded upon a sort of intuition which he tried to encourage.—Of the chicanery, impenetrability, and settled resolves of an inquisitor, Signor Frederico was well aware; and on their jealously of defied authority, dread of controul, and proverbial severity, he built his expectation of determined opposition to his pleas. Father Theobald’s manners, indeed, claimed an exception to the general rule; but still he was an inquisitor—zealous in his duty, and from him he had nothing to hope. To stand or fall, then, by the decrees of omnipotence was his fate, and he submitted with fortitude.
After a long and elaborate repetition of the patience and tenderness attributable to their court by themselves only, Father Dominick, the official interrogator upon this occasion, particularized every circumstance of Signor de Lima’s offence, with a bitterness and unbending rancour, that marked his servile attention to his haughty superior’s propension to rigid treatment; ending with a request to know if the prisoner chose to make any further defence, or would bring forward any proofs of his innocence? Unawed by the penetrating aspect of the chief judge, whose eye half-closed, and obliquely fixed upon his powerless victim, betrayed the latent exultation of a hardened heart, as he leant over the table upon his crossed arms. Frederico collected fortitude sufficient to ask for a recital of those proofs which had been brought against him, assuring the most holy Father Padrillo, (for he felt too much contempt for the Father Dominick to address him) he felt perfectly at ease respecting the charge imputed to him, and though denied the indulgence usual in other courts of facing his accusers, yet he would rest his cause upon the moderation and justice of his lordship, if he would indulge him with the grant of his wishes. A most taunting denial followed this request, and the prisoner was accused of contempt of court, in daring to oppose any of its established usages. Almost breathless with terror, Count Theodore heard this additional charge—but he heard in trembling silence; for to have betrayed any symptom even of compasion, must have encreased the danger of his friend.
“Pardon me, my lord,” said Frederico, “I meant not to incur your censure by my petition, however derogatory to the maxims of this tribunal it might be worded; I meant only to establish in your lordship’s opinion, by the success of that appeal, a belief of my innocence, not conceiving this can be done by any other method.” “Innocence?” retorted the mortified Dominick, who felt offended by the prisoner’s neglect, “Why, truly that is a strong word.” “It is, Reverend Father; but in this instance, it is applicable to my conduct.” “You must be humbled, proud sir.” “I am humbled; deeply humbled: for I have lived to answer a charge which strikes at all that is dear to me in existence, and which, if substantiated, will—O God!” and he lifted up his tearful eyes, “What will it not do?—render me hateful even to thee.” Then recollecting himself, and addressing the Grand Judge, “My lord, it still remains with you to rescue an unhappy man from obloquy and wretchedness, by indulging him with the means of self defence; but if the proofs already hinted at, must remain dormant to me, I frankly confess myself unable to adduce any serviceable ones from my own experience. Your lordship has already heard all those I could bring forward upon former occasions; but if they be inefficient, my claim is hopeless, and I must abide by the consequences of an imputed crime.” “Know you where your partner in this iniquitous compact resides?” asked the remorseless Dominick, who shewed no great policy in this application. Frederico was silent. “You hear the question, prisoner, from our brother? this is fresh contempt!” “Not so, my lord, but I do not understand it; or if I do”—“You would not answer.” The Signor bowed respectfully. “Enough, prisoner, we shall proceed accordingly: you, brother Dominick, will pronounce sentence.”
“Then it is all over!” thought the pitying Theodore, whose tears became troublesome to him, “O Almeria! how torturing to thy conjugal feelings will be the intelligence I must communicate! And that dear victim of a dark conspiracy, how composed he seems! alas, those features now so placid, so expressive of mild and manly resignation, how soon will they be distorted with actual pain!” The picture his fancy formed, grew too horrible for further contemplation, and he turned from it to a theme little less painful;—the subject of sentence, which Dominick was preparing to pronounce. At length, after a solemn and impressive silence, during which every one present, not excepting the members of the tribunal, uncovered their heads and stood up: Father Dominick began in a whining tone of insincere pity, expressive of his regret at being called upon to condemn a fellow creature, whose crime demanded a severe punishment: “Had you, Frederico de Lima,” continued the pompous being, “made an ample confession of that most horrid, most diabolical crime, which has rendered you subject to ecclesiastical justice; had you considered the consequence of offending a court so justly tenacious of its sacred privileges, a milder fate had been your lot; but you have added insolence to impertinence, and must abide by the effect of such a conduct. Yet, such is the unprecedented clemency of a tribunal you affect to defy, that they are willing to allow you a longer respite, if you will make some attempt to justify, or exculpate yourself, which we can notice in a regular way; something that may amount to a proof.”
Frederico, who was unable even in a predicament so terrible, to conceal his abhorrence of Father Dominick, professed his inability to produce any serviceable proof, since his responsibility was so decidedly denied; therefore, he respectfully entreated that his suspense might be shortened, and sentence given. At this unusual request, the inquisitors exchanged a meaning look, and Dominick was proceeding to gratify this refractory culprit, when he was once again interrupted in the work of death, by a little disturbance near the door; from whence several strangers silently advanced, and ranging themselves at a distance from the tribunal, appeared attentive only to the business in question. Their approach was noticed by a severe frown from the Great Judge, who bid his holy brother go on;—the father immediately resumed his delegated office, and again addressing Signor Frederico “You are contumacious then, prisoner, and will not”—“Can not, revered judge,” said he, catching the meaning of his cruel tormentor, and bowing respectfully to the stern Padrillo San Cervantes, “No, my lord, I can not bring forward any satisfactory proof.”—
“But I can,” said Father Theobald, in a voice calculated to impose belief; while he turned a look of awful severity upon his mortified brother, “and will pledge my life,—nay, what is still dearer, my character, as a member of this most sacred office, that Frederico de Tavora, no longer Lima, is innocent of the atrocious crime imputed to him.” “You are mysterious, brother Theobald; we do not understand this assertion; nor does your information come to us in the usual mode: we shall therefore withdraw to take a regular cognizance of what you have advanced.” “That will be needless, Lord Padrillo, our witnesses are present, and are ready to give the court full satisfaction on this head, under a positive impression of our claims to the attributes of justice and mercy; which they aptly conceive will be highly gratified, by the prisoner’s exoneration from that load of infamy he has so long endured.” “We are not disposed to countenance innovations, my lord,” returned the offended Padrillo, “this business must stand over till each witness be separately examined; and if the prisoner encourages a certain hope of his deliverance, he will not murmur at the delay. And now cryer, adjourn the court, till we have leisure to scrutinize this extraordinary business.—Officer, lead your prisoner hence.”
It was with deep reluctance, that Frederico felt himself obliged to obey the rigid command; his eye wandered alternately from Father Theobald to the newly arrived strangers, as if eager to catch some propitious intelligence from their mutual glances, but he was allowed no time for explanation.—Father Theobald quitted his chair without uttering another word.—The strangers retired with an air of vexation and disappointment, leaving Count Theodore employed in a painful, but delicious reverie; occasioned by a strong hope, which would not be repelled, that he should see his beloved Frederico restored—if not to his illustrious rank and title, as heir to the houses and estates of Tavora, yet to that he held in society, as an honourable and useful member of it. Leaving, therefore, the tribunal where he had been so unexpectedly relieved from the horror of hearing his young favourite condemned to a cruel and ignominious punishment, he hastened to his almost equally anxious friend; and delighted that worthy Baronet with an account so foreign to his expectations; giving him at the same time, permission to trust Lady Tillotson with the discretionary power of lessening, though in a distant way, her unhappy companion’s apprehensions.
AS the Grand Judge had omitted to fix a time for a fresh enquiry into a business, which it was plain he wished to conclude in a way unfavourable to Father Theobald’s hopes, whose earnest and indiscreet opposition had given that haughty Portuguese an unpardonable offence, Count Theodore lost no time in applying to the good Father for an explanation of his extraordinary conduct; and he requested an interview upon the following morning, devoid of that timidity which had given his manner, in his foregoing visits, a tincture of awkwardness. Admitted to the inquisitor’s breakfast table, he was struck with the appearance of those gentlemen he had previously seen on the preceding day; one of whom exhibited in the traits of his venerable, but noble countenance, a high degree of Spanish grandeur; the other had nothing in his looks to excite particular attention; but for the aged Cavalier, he felt an indiscribable emotion—a somewhat bordering upon affection, connected with reverence; even his features, shrunk as they were, indicated a confused remembrance of former occurrences, and Count Theodore fancying them familiar to his memory, gazed till his eye dropped beneath the Cavalier’s equally scrutinizing glances.
Father Theobald beheld this mutual embarrassment with a benevolent smile, and taking the Count’s hand, he put it into that of his ancient visitor, saying “Receive, my son, the father of thy loved Alzira; and you, Don Arthurio, recognize in this this gentleman, Count Theodore de Lima;—the protector of your grandson Frederico de Tavora, and his wife, daughter to the late unhappy Duke D’Aveiro.” Unable to controul those agonizing feelings which such an introduction excited, Count Theodore groaned convulsively.—In the father of Alzira he again beheld her persecutor; and although he had freely forgiven that avaricious Spaniard, he could not forget the long-long years of anguish his love of money had produced. Too well understanding, and as heartily condemning the primary source of this distress, Don Arthurio, who had bitterly deplored the consequences of that attachment, had no consolation to give: he could only press the hand of his injured son-in-law, and then dropped into a chair nearly insensible.
“This useless retrospection must not be indulged,” cried their common friend, while he strove to raise the half-fainting veteran, “Count Theodore has much to learn, and our time will admit of no delay; perhaps the fate of your Frederico depends upon dispatch.—In this man,” turning to one of the strangers, “you see the husband of Almeria’s nurse: Don Arthurio therefore, to whom some papers have been transmitted which establish Mrs. Cleveland’s right to the late Duke D’Aveiro’s title and estate, (supposing the latter not totally confiscated) has taken a long and painful journey, not only to ascertain her claim, but to clear the injured Frederico’s character from the infamy which rests upon it.”—“Blessed combination of unexpected events!” exclaimed the enraptured Count, “Now indeed, may that persecuted pair look forward to a happy development of those cruel circumstances, which have clouded their early days and embittered a tender union. Complete indeed will be the evidence in their favour; for I also have papers to produce, that must correspond with, and strengthen your testimonies.—Papers written and signed by my lamented sister Theodora Duchess of Aveiro, and mother to Almeria, explaining with affecting precision, her motive for giving up her maternal claim to the lovely infant. We have now then, only to wait the leisure of Lord Padrillo, and I trust he will not tax our patience too severely.” “There are forms” observed Father Theobald, whose serious aspect gave force to his assertion, “which my holy brother will not dispense with, that may possibly militate against our eager wishes to restore Frederico de Tavora to his liberty; and we must submit to irrevocable decrees.” “And we will submit,” replied the Count, “to every dispensation which this excellent friend and spiritual director shall deem necessary. At present, if Don Arthurio be sufficiently recovered for conversation, I would wish to hear by what means he became possessed of those important papers, that promise such great advantages to my nephew and his lady.”
“Would to St. Anthony,” returned Gonsales, “I could as easily *** but forgive a wretched old man, in whose faithful memory, one idea alone is uppermost: I was about to touch a chord that vibrates in every vein of an exhausted heart.” “No more, Don Arthurio, I understand your hint; its object is too sacred for discussion; proceed therefore, if you please to gratify my curiosity.—Curiosity, did I say? but proceed, my father.” The noble Castilian then informed his auditors, that made extremely wretched by the report which had reached his ears from Jeronymo, lieutenant of the citadel appointed for state criminals, that a cavalier who had been involved in the late process against the house of Tavora, was moved from that prison to the inquisition, in consequence of a report which rendered him cognizable to the tribunal, he lost no time in investigating the motive for such a proceeding, and soon gained a knowledge of his supposed crime. Still more unhappy to discover the stigma that would hang upon the posterity of a family to which he owned a collateral affinity, Gonzales endeavoured to trace the luckless Frederico’s real origin; but in vain: till he recollected a conversation he once held with an Alguazil, who had formerly been distinguished as a confidential servant to his lamented daughter Alzira. Fond of hearing any little anecdote relative to the virtues of that suffering lady, he used to encourage the Alguazil to be frequent in his communications; but there was a secret in Thomo’s possession, which Don Arthurio could not fully develope; although from several hints, he judged both his daughter and the Duchess D’Aveiro were concerned in it; also, that Thomo was somehow engaged in the preservation of a child of De Tavora’s house. However, till Frederico’s unfortunate situation became interesting to Gonzales, the Castilian had not felt himself induced to tamper with the honour of a Spaniard; but fired by the hope of rendering an essential service to a young man, on whose excellent character his friend Jeronymo had expatiated with uncommon warmth, he no longer scrupled to aim at the possession of Thomo’s cherished secret; and sending for the Alguazil, he described to him with great exactness, the person, character, misfortunes, and connexions of Frederico; so far at least, as Jeronymo’s representation enabled him to do; in which the lieutenant had been assisted, not only by his prisoner, but from Count Theodore, while that nobleman had been so actively engaged in procuring his favourite the indulgences he enjoyed.
True to the characteristic of his country, Thomo gave evident marks of displeasure while Don Arthurio was delivering an exordium, containing several situations in which a person might stand excused for a breach of promise; but when he adverted to the real cause for an act so derogatory to Spanish dignity,—when he urged his reasons for supposing Frederico had some claim upon Thomo’s attention, the Alguazil listened with an eagerness that betrayed a very particular interest in the business; and he asked several questions respecting this unowned branch of a family he had venerated, in such an unguarded manner, as to raise Gonzales hopes to their highest pitch. When that gentleman had concluded his narrative, Thomo appeared excessively disturbed. “It was singular” he observed, “that an heir of Tavora should have been so long secreted from public observation, unless—but then,” as if recollecting himself, “there might be another branch, that some friendly hand had extricated from the destruction which ****” Here he paused, uninterrupted by Don Arthurio; who knew enough of human nature to leave it to itself upon this occasion, for he saw the secret bursting as it were, from the lips of Thomo; who unable to contain himself any longer, offered to go to Lisbon, and convince himself of Frederico’s identity and particular claim to the family of his beloved lady; candidly declaring, he had been entrusted by that Signora with her young son, on the eve of her husband’s commitment to prison, whose principles had rendered him an object of suspicion three years antecedent to his death; and that he was to convey him to England when a convenient opportunity should offer, but under a seal of secrecy which admitted of no reservation.
Happy to be thought worthy of such a trust, Thomo took charge of the little boy; scarcely ever trusting him from his sight, but when employed in engaging a vessel to carry them to Britain. “Yet,” said the poor fellow, while a tear gathered in his eye, “I was not thought worthy of executing that dear saint’s commission; for, upon a day never to be forgotten in the annals of Portugal, I left my little treasure to the care of Ires, and rising with the sun, made the best of my way to the harbour, where an English ship had just completed her cargo, and was to sail on the following morning; but scarcely had I left the quay, when, stunned by a horrid noise, I hastily looked back, and beheld the whole of that vast place torn from the solid earth, and slide, if I may so say, into the Tagus. Alarmed beyond expression by the earthquake which had occasioned this awful mischief, I ran to my cottage; but it was in ruins: overwhelmed by a church, near which it stood. From that moment I never more beheld the unhappy babe, who, with my dear wife, I supposed to be buried under the walls of St. Augustine; but your account, Don Arthurio, makes me hope he has escaped, and that I shall again see the dear offspring of my sweet lady.”
Satisfied with this intelligence, Gonzales prepared for his journey to Lisbon; at the same time he employed the Alguazil, who could not be spared from his post as an officer of the police, to draw up a full and circumstantial relation of all he knew respecting Alzira, and the child entrusted to him, which he was to attest upon his oath, made before the chief magistrate at Seville; with a particular description of the cross, &c. which his lady had fastened upon her son, and which exactly tallied with those formerly noticed by Count Theodore as attached to Frederico. This memorandum Don Arthurio produced to De Lima, who, in conjunction with Father Theobald, made no scruple to coincide in the reverend Castilian’s opinion, that the little boy discovered by the muleteer who consigned him over to Sir Henry Tillotson, was the Marquis de Tavora’s youngest son, and the last relict of his race. We shall pass over a description of those general congratulations, which this unequivocal discovery produced among people to whom that noble young man was so truly dear; and take some notice of Anthony, who had been introduced as the husband of Laura, and one whose evidence would tend to strengthen their young charge’s claims upon the Duke D’Aveiro’s family.
How Anthony could substantiate Almeria’s title to that honourable, but in the event of her father’s death,—affecting distinction, after his assertion that she was daughter to De Tavora, was an enigma Count Theodore ardently wished to have explained; and with some degree of impatience interrogated Anthony upon the subject. At first, he betrayed some symptoms of confusion not very favourable to his cause, or rather, to the success of his mission. “By what appellation,” asked De Lima, “did you announce the child to Captain Derrick?” “By that of heiress to Duke D’Aveiro, I confess it.” “What then could be your obligation to keep her true origin a secret from me?” “A promise sacredly given both to the Marchioness and Duchess.” “But you certainly forgot that obligation, while giving your charge to her friendly protector?” “I did, my lord; for my terror was so great, as to deprive me of all caution, and it was not till some hours after that I recollected my error; but still I was consoled with a hope, that the gentleman might be a native of Britain, the evil then might not be of such magnitude; and I engaged my wife Laura to contradict every report, should any be circulated by the Captain, charging her to declare if called upon, that the infant Almeria, for by that name we received her, was indeed a daughter of the house of Tavora; and strengthened this notion, by sending Sir Henry Tillotson the same intelligence, whom I knew to be acquainted with some part of the Lady Almeria’s history;—nay, we also gave my lord the Count a similar account.” “Still,” replied that nobleman, “it remains to be told by what means you are now induced to give up this important secret?” “That I can easily do; for, terrified by the late prosecution set on foot against the relations of Duke D’Aveiro, I dreaded, although but a servant, that I should be included in the danger; and having lost my poor wife, I determined to part with my effects in a private way, being perfectly wretched till I was secured from such destruction. In order to do this completely, I made the best of my way to Seville; when knowing Thomo the Alguazil, I applied to him for employment. This he soon procured; and in the course of conversation, we frequently recurred to the dreadful destruction of two families, by whom we had been so confidentially honoured; when one evening I was amazed with an account from my friend, of Don Arthurio’s application to him for anecdotes of those families, and painting that gentleman’s agitation whilst describing Frederico’s distress, his marriage with the Lady Almeria, and the shocking suspicion of their affinity, which threatened such dreadful consequences to both. Although my young Lady was mentioned by the name of Mrs. Cleveland, I knew who was meant, when the name of Sir Henry Tillotson was given, as one who was deeply interested in her welfare; but I cannot describe the agonies I felt at this intelligence, justly considering my foolish adherence to a promise, which had long ceased to be of consequence to any one, as the cause perhaps of two people’s death, whom I would have suffered any thing to preserve. However, determined to make all the amends in my power, I made a full confession to Don Arthurio, and he immediately resolved to secure my evidence in favour of Signor de Tavora and his Lady. May the blessed St. Anthony smile upon our best endeavours; and may the Holy Fathers (solemnly bowing) indulge us with a quick and patient hearing.”
“The tribunal must not be hurried in its decisions,” observed Father Theobald, “At present, I see no reason to fear an unfavourable decree; but it is not in my power to say when that shall be given. Of course, you, Count Theodore, will prepare her, who must in future be stiled the young Machioness de Tavora, for the happiness that awaits her. I will be careful to console her husband, and inspire him with patience to bear the untoward delay.” “Already, I believe, my good Father,” said the Count, “has Lady Tillotson administered the precious cordial to her young friend, though with a proper reservation.”
He was going on, when a voice at the door of the antichamber, was heard to contend with some one for admittance, while the soft tones of a female seemed employed in expostulation; but (as it appeared) to very little effect, for the door was burst open, and discovered—the imprudent Captain Derrick, with a countenance on which were depicted the wildest expressions of excessive joy, as he was drawing forward the shrinking reluctant Almeria Cleveland, or, as we ought to denominate her—Almeria Marchioness de Tavora.
Hurt, beyond idea, at the appearance of one whose deliverance Father Theobald had ventured so much, he was preparing a bitter rebuke for the impenetrable offender, and had already demanded how he dared to defy the vengeance of provoked justice, and involve him in his danger by publicly treading the crowded streets; when he must know that he, the said Father, who so generously procured him his liberty, might incur not only his holy brethren’s displeasure, but be subjected to a punishment equal perhaps, if not in penal anguish, yet completely so in the disgrace he must endure. To hear a censure so replete with an implied reflection upon his own selfish want of attention to his deliverer, as well as for his temerity in venturing from his assylum, was quite sufficient to contract the triumphantly happy features of our thoughtless Irishman; who, in the exuberance of his joy, at hearing from Sir Henry the delightful turn his favourite Frederico’s affairs had taken, ran immediately to the cottage; but being too late for admittance, was obliged to return to his venerable friend, from whom he received a severe lecture, for attempting to supercede him in that important office. However Derrick might outwardly accede to the Baronet’s wish of staying within, he no sooner saw Sir Henry set out upon an errand, in which he was so eager to officiate as principal informer, than, maugre all that gentleman’s fruitless cautions, he daringly followed; and arrived just in time to hear from Lady Tillotson, that her husband had left them to join Count Theodore at Father Theobald’s, though she did not exactly know for what purpose. “O, but then I do, honey,” cried Derrick, who immediately took it into his wise head that Frederico was that morning liberated, and would meet them at the inquisitor’s, “So come with me, my pretty Almeria, and we will beat up the owld bucaneer’s quarters, and bring the poor prisoner off in triumph.”
This indiscreet supposition lost none of its effects upon our heroine, whose spirits were thrown into a rapturous agitation by Sir Henry’s guarded account, and she felt herself no longer the docile patient sufferer, that had endured the torture of protracted hope for so many tedious days; for to know, or even to imagine, that this long lamented husband was once more in a state of freedom, and at so small a distance from her, without making one effort to end a suspense so cruel, was quite beyond her patience to endure, and she resolutely gave her hand to Derrick to lead her to him; who joyfully offered to conduct her to Lisbon, heedless of Lady Tillotson’s assurance that there was no foundation for Patrick's suggestion. “For pity’s sake, dear madam,” exclaimed the anxious Almeria, “do not check the hope I would encourage of meeting my beloved Frederico; but indulge me with your chaise to make this important trial.” “As you please, my love; but yet, I must think you to blame for a conduct which the inquisitor himself will doubtless condemn.”
Without attending to further objections, Almeria ran to prepare for her eventful visit, while Derrick as eagerly hastened to order the chaise; and such was their speed, that they passed Sir Henry on his way to Lisbon; who, tempted by the beauty of the morning, chose to walk to Father Theobald’s, and was astonished to see the carriage which he had left at the cottage; and would have checked its velocity; but, encouraged by Patrick’s pecuniary sacrifices, the driver rendered his master's attempts to stop him useless; and our impatient heroine beheld herself in the inquisitor’s vestibule, before she could collect her ideas, so as to form a tolerable excuse for this strange visit. Here she would have stopped to recover the breath, her eagerness to see Frederico had nearly impeded, and try to compose her hurried spirits; but the very mention of her intent, was sufficient to increase her companion’s impetuosity; who, after ordering a servant to shew him to his master’s room, almost forcibly drew Mrs. Cleveland towards the door. Unused to our whimsical despot, the man refused to let him pass, till his lord was apprised of this unpleasant interruption; and placing his hand upon the lock of a door which led to an anti-room, civilly informed Derrick, that he must take in his name and business before they could be admitted. “And who towld you all that, Mr. Snap-Dragon? what, I warrant, you expect we should come down handsomely before we can see your raree-show, hay! but howld hard a bit, and stand off, that this poor jontlewoman may go to her husband, or my good shillalah shall taech you better manners, Mr. Signor Tawny-chaps—d’ye hear!” shaking a stout oaken stick at the half-terrified fellow, and then in defiance of poor Almeria’s soft entreaties, abruptly entered, unconscious of the censure he had so justly incurred. Too much mortified even to utter an excuse, he could only stare wildly round, in hope of meeting in Frederico’s presence, an apology for his inexcusable behaviour; but keenly disappointed in the notion he had so rashly taken up, he stamped with vexation, and then dropping his eyes, absolutely slunk away to a distant window; while Count Theodore, feeling for his half-fainting niece, presented her in the most affectionate way to Don Arthurio and the good Father, as Marchioness de Tavora, and the only surviving descendant of Aveiro’s Duke.
Oppressed with sensations almost too keen for discrimination, Mrs. Cleveland, whom we must call so for the last time, sunk upon her kind protector’s bosom. In vain had she cast a timid eye upon every countenance, eagerly hoping to recognize her beloved husband; but agonized with all the misery of defeated expectation, she turned a look of such meek despair upon her luckless conductor, as drew tears from that mortified being, as his eye half raised, just caught the penetrating glance. Count Theodore, without exactly appropriating the cause of that anguished look, by his surprising information, soon effected a considerable alteration in her sentiments.—To find herself the acknowledged daughter of that once illustrious house,—wife to a branch of one equally distinguished, and so warmly received and protected by her husband’s nearest relatives,—that husband too, so favoured by a lord of the inquisition, whose power was doubtles equal to any purpose he might undertake to effect, (for she knew not that he could be subjected to a superior authority) O! what a prospect of happiness opened upon her delighted senses! even that laudable pride, which had sometimes received a shock from an idea of inferiority, no longer put in its claim for mortification; and after the sacrifice of a few grateful tears, she ventured to ask if the young Marquis was yet liberated? Father Theobald gave an encouraging negative to this question; gently insinuating his hope that it would be soon, though he could not exactly mention the day, as that depended upon particular arrangements.
Scarcely satisfied with a confession, which seemed to limit the venerable Father’s power, she attempted an air of satisfaction, and then paid her tender acknowledgments to her surrounding friends, with a grace that recommended her to their esteem and affection; when Patrick, who had been thrown into the back ground by self condemnation, no longer able to contain his feelings at a change so advantageous to his protège, and forgetful of his situation with Father Theobald, congratulated the Lady Almeria with an energy of expression, so artless and so sincere, as to establish himself even in the opinion of those who had the most reason to condemn him.
THE CASE IS ALTERED.
AFTER Derrick had vented the first effusions of his ungovernable joy, Count Theodore proposed to conduct his neice to Lady Tillotson, but the entrance of Sir Henry, who was but just arrived, rendered his attention useless, and he recommended her to that gentleman’s care in terms which explained the foregoing scene, and gave the utmost pleasure to our Baronet’s worthy heart. It was then settled that Derrick also should return to the cottage, there to remain, unseen by every stranger, till he could reappear without hazard to his person. Don Arthurio Gonzales, with Anthony, were to stay with Father Theobald till they should be called upon to give their important evidence; and our young Marchioness quitted her beloved uncle with filial regret: for Count Theodore had agreed to remain also with Father Theobald, in consequence of a wish expressed by the aged Castilian; who felt renovated by the society of one, whose forgiveness he considered as essential to his present peace, and future happiness.
Notwithstanding the injunctions laid upon Derrick to continue a close prisoner, he meditated a visit to the crest-fallen Polygon; having been previously informed of his arrival at his own house, after experiencing numberless mortifications. It was a fact, that the unhappy creature needed no stimulus to arouse a conscience completely awakened, nor any addition to his grief, for the deprivation of his ill gotten advantages; for the suit which Don Carlos had instituted against him, in behalf of his wards, had just been obtained, to the utter ruin of their iniquitous guardian; and in consequence of their chusing the said Don Carlos to act for them, they were returned to that gentleman’s Casa, unawed by any future attempts of the wretched Isaac’s. It is possible to suppose hearts tender enough to decline any further mortification of a man so completely miserable;—but Derrick was not of that opinion, when he meditated his triumph over Polygon; for, added to all the mischief he had fabricated against Frederico and his Lady, there was a circumstance which, although Patrick scarcely dare own it to himself, struck our enamoured Hibernian in his most vulnerable part; and every generous sentiment for a man who had universally opposed those schemes, that had the happiness of his dearest friends for their object, seemed totally annihilated in his bosom; but before he could put in practice this ardent design, Derrick was fated to experience a very different attack upon his passions, which came from a quarter he little suspected.
To a man of Patrick’s description, the ceremony of Count Theodore’s formal introduction had not been thought indispensably necessary, either by Sir Henry Tillotson or Lady Almeria; the latter of whom, however desirous she might have been to remove his former prejudices against the hermit of the rock, was effectually prevented by Patrick’s abrupt disclosure of Frederico’s danger in the inquisition, when her terrors, which he had so incautiously raised, obliged her to quit the room. Previous, however, to the interruption we have hinted at, he received an additional spur to his intended attack upon Polygon, by the arrival of Francisca and her sister at the cottage; to which place an affectionate invitation from our young Marchioness had brought them, a few hours after her departure from Father Theobald’s.
It was with the utmost difficulty Captain Derrick could restrain his indignation to a few grumbling execrations, as Anica related the particulars of Polygon’s base conduct towards them; but held within decent bounds by the presence of the lively Francisca, whose good opinion he was unusually earnest to secure, he barely kept pace with the company in their severe remarks upon Isaac’s wickedness; till totally unequal to the painful task of dissimulation, he suddenly arose, swearing, “there were two people upon earth against whom he would plant all the artillery of his unsatisfied revenge!” Lady Almeria smiled at the hyperbolical expression, and guessed to whom his threats extended; but for Count Theodore, she encouraged no fearful presentiment, well knowing, that nobleman could easily undeceive her impetuous friend.
As we have already asserted she had found no opportunity to set him right, at the time he was so mischievously engaged in explaining Frederico’s situation, consequently he still remained ignorant of the Count’s abode at Cabo Roco; who happened to enter the cottage just as Patrick was about to leave it. “You are in a hurry, Captain,” observed Count Theodore, taking his arm to lead him from the door, and almost forcibly conducting him to the company he had just quitted; “I cannot part with you just yet, we must be better acquainted.” “With all my heart, honey, but pr’the don’t run foul of a man when he is in chase of the enemy; bacase why, it looks all’s one as if you sided with him.” “Enemy! Mr Derrick.” “Enemy? why sure now, would you cavil upon words?—enemy, or foe, or pirate, or Frenchman, d’ye see, being as they are all the same thing to little Patrick.” “Well, but Mr. Polygon is no Frenchman,” observed the laughing Francisca, for she guessed at his meaning. “Mayhap not, Signora; but he is a tiger-hearted, hypocritical owld sinner, and that’s one and the same thing, you know, as I have said before; being he is no better than a cunning crocodile.—And not the only crocodile of our acquaintance neither; and now I think of it, I should like to come athwart-house the owld Reverendissimo of the rock once more; by the way, I should so belabour his double tanned hide, that he shouldn’t be able to plot mischief for a month to come at least.” “And yet you have professed to venerate that unfortunate object of your resentment for his attachment to me, Captain.” “Venerate? Mrs. Cleveland, d’ye say—Almeria, I mane;—faith now, and that I do most heartily; if so be you mane I should express myself, by the operation of a good cat-and-nine-tails!”—“Now then is your time, sir,” said Count Theodore, who really enjoyed the Irishman’s mistaken resentment, “for in me, you behold the Hermit of the Rock!”—
“That’s a good one,” replied Derrick, colouring very high with rage at the bare idea of such a deception, and unconsciously clenching a most formidable fist, “for supposing a man can be in two places at once, still he can’t be a handsome Cavalier and an owld wizzen-faced baboon at one time, sure now!” “I will not make my claim to either of those descriptions, Captain, and yet I am the very Count Theodore de Lima,—the Hermit you allude to, and your sincere admirer.” “Then you are a rogue, a chate, a bug-a-bo, to good little girls; and if I thought ***” “Stop, sir,” cried his beloved niece, as he still continued to stile Almeria, who did not like the turn of his countenance, “You mistake this gentleman’s character, as I myself did, when under the influence of doubt and fear. Much as I appreciate your affectionate kindness, both to Frederico and myself, during the several stages of our recent misfortunes, it is impossible to rate it higher than that of Count Theodore; who supplied with paternal ardency, the attentions you were necessitated to remit. He watched my weary footsteps, and secretly protected me through the barren desart,—the lonely wood; he procured an honourable assylum for me at his father’s palace, when under a dreadful proscription; he rescued me, at the hazard of fame, fortune, and life, from the abode of suffering and penal torture; and he, has nobly stood forth, through the medium of a generous friend at the dread tribunal, a successful advocate for persecuted innocence. Through him, even you are delivered from oppressive tyranny; and through him, under heaven, we shall be permitted to hope that the time is not far off, when we shall rejoice in peace and security.”
During this warm defence and liberal eulogium, Captain Derrick exhibited various emotions; at the first assertion of Count de Lima’s active benevolence, by the young Marchioness, his uplifted fist forsook its station, and as she proceeded, gradually sunk to its former position; his angry glances were suspended, his bushy brows slowly expanded, tears gathered in those eyes which just before shot beams of indignation, and the hand that was so recently animated by hostile intentions, now extended itself as a token of cordial amity, and grateful remembrance of the obligations Almeria enumerated; till no longer able to restrain his usual impetuosity, he rushed upon the smiling Count, and grasped him with energy that threatened to derange de Lima’s superb appearance; (for in consequence of the late event, and in compliment to the venerable Castilian’s regard to state, he had once more assumed his customary adornments,) loudly exclaiming that “a man should niver give up a bad cause, till he found it to be a good one; becase why, he might chance to wound a friend in his foe; and though that, d’ye see,” added the happy blunderer, “might kill two birds with one stone, yet the odds are greatly against him; seeing as how, a person had better keep a hundred enemies, than lose one friend; since he may find plenty of the first in every corner, but as for the latter”—“They are to be met with in every corner also, if we confine our research to this delightful circle,” subjoined the Lady Almeria, and bowing with a look of gratitude upon her surrounding companions, “or even extend it to distant countries:—What think you, dear sir, of that pattern of goodness, the venerable Baron de Lima? or the ever to be regretted curate of Amesbury, with his maternal partner? all of whom cherished, supported, and protected your once poor helpless child, when threatened with various evils.”—“Think! why, that a good action is its own reward, pretty one; and as bad ones ought to be rewarded also, and I am very deeply indebted to owld Midas on that score, sure now, it may be as well to rub off a few chalks to make room for more, before they are all paid with a halter.”
He was then about to leave the room in an unceremonious way, when Count Theodore gently reminded him of a very unpleasant circumstance, by asking him if he preferred the cheerful and safe society of familiars and executioners to the present? or, if in settling an account due to resentment, he did not overlook the heavy bill he had so lately drawn upon Father Theobald’s extraordinary benevolence, making that good man responsible for his dangerous blunders? Derrick felt the reproof, and the necessity of its observance, but Polygon so near him, so much the object of a revenge he had long meditated,—how could our Irishman give up such an exquisite gratification? and even demurred to a remonstrance that carried such weight in the balance of prudence, generosity and friendship. To lessen the conflict between his principles and his passions, Francisca tried her power over him, by indulging her vein of sprightly, yet delicate satire; which she varied so artfully, adapting it to his peculiar situation, and knowing more of his sentiments respecting her, than was even known to himself, that she gained her point most effectually; and he promised to give up every attempt at meeting Polygon, till he could do it without injury to his noble deliverer, or hazarding his own safety.
But while Derrick was enjoying the sweets of comparative liberty, and recommending himself to the woman of his choice, by that simple sincerity which governed his thoughts, words, and actions, Father Theobald was in danger of suffering for his daring innovation upon the privileges of the inquisition; while the ill-fated Irishman, whose escape was soon made known to the Grand Judge, became once more the object of their search. That Father Theobald should have ventured so far, could only be accounted for by his fear that Derrick’s thoughtless conduct might bring irreparable ruin upon his fellow prisoners, as well as himself, and unacquainted with the great Padrillo’s inflexible disposition, he rated his own powers of persuasion as more than equal to the obstinacy which he scarcely suspected; nor had it once occurred to him, that his advancement to the dignity of second inquisitor, had been obtained in defiance of Padrillo’s intention to fix his brother in that important office; but this was exactly the case, and proved a powerful incentive to that vindictive man’s opposition to every suggestion of Father Theobald, which had its own gratification for its object. Eager, therefore, to seek for any cause of detention of the prisoners, and not quite satisfied with the reason stated for Derrick’s non-appearance at the tribunal, Padrillo San Cervantes immediately took such methods for investigating that business, as soon brought on a discovery which gratified his eager hope of revenge; and instead of bringing the depending cause to a final issue, he flatly accused his unhappy coadjutor of the flagitious crime of permitting a supposed criminal’s escape.
This dreadful intelligence soon reached the ears of his admiring friends, spreading consternation and sorrow over every countenance; but when Derrick was informed of the consequence of his own imprudence, (in behaving so as to put the good Father upon such a dangerous measure) his grief was without bounds; and every epithet a warm indignant spirit could suggest, was freely vented, both against himself and that “son of Beelzebub,” as he made no scruple to call the man whom yet he dreaded; then turning to the poor Marchioness, and perceiving her mute, but affecting distress, he flung himself at her feet in an agony, that her displeasure at his primary conduct changed into pity, imprecating vengeance upon the folly which had plunged her into so much grief, and ruined the man who had preserved him from death, while tears of repentance poured along his rugged cheek. “For your own sake rise, my dear mistaken friend,” cried the sobbing Almeria, “this is no place of safety for you.—Fly, therefore, while it is yet in your power: the mischief now is irremediable, nor can your presence avert it. Fly, then, and give me the satisfaction to know, that all my protectors are not involved in the mighty ruin, which sooner or later must overwhelm us.” “Fly! did you say?” repeated the half-frenzied Derrick, as he arose and looked wildly round him, “Where, honey, answer me that? Who will shelter a wretch like me?—No, I will not fly: perhaps my worthless life may satisfy that grizzled monster, and he shall have it.” He then stalked about the room with a bewildered air, at times muttering the word “Fly” with a look of scornful ridicule, as if despising himself for giving any occasion to suppose he would be guilty of such a cowardly action.
Sir Henry Tillotson, who had conveyed this melancholy information to the cottage, had seen enough of Derrick’s eccentricity, to avail himself of it in the present instance; and by giving a dextrous turn to the whole representation, not only reduced the violence of his feelings, but made him see the necessity of obeying the Marchioness; and she had the melancholy pleasure of receiving a note from his own hand on the following evening, indicating his arrival on board the Caduceus, bound for England. Too much agonized at the dreadful idea of his revisiting the horrid inquisition, Francisca had been easily prevailed upon to comfort him with a promise “that if her friend Almeria was permitted to revisit Great Britain, she would accompany her thither; an engagement which, at a more tranquil period, would have excited no small degree of wonder and astonishment in those, who knew not the value of a heart which Francisca so justly appreciated, and which, notwithstanding the disparity of years, she had scrupled not to affirm to the Marchioness, was in her opinion a jewel of inestimable value. Leaving, therefore, our reluctant emigrant to the prosecution of his involuntary voyage, we will return to the unhappy sufferers by his thoughtlessness. Of these, Father Theobald may be considered as foremost; who had been arrested by an order from Padrillo, and was consigned to an apartment in the inquisition, not much more convenient than those assigned to strangers. It is true, that the young Marquis and Signor Jerome were still confined, but still they knew that the strong testimonies, which no sophistry could refute, must soon be brought forward to their complete exoneration; and even Almeria, whose heart bled for the distress of the benevolent Theobald, still enjoyed a sublime confidence in her dependance upon those testimonies, although she wept with Count Theodore that delay, which this cruel attack upon their venerable supporter would doubtless create.
It was with some difficulty the Count could pronounce a cordial farewel to Captain Derrick, so keenly did he feel the consequence of that simple being’s thoughtless conduct, which deeply touched his feeling heart, while a shade of apprehension for the safety of all, clouded the prospect of brightening hope; yet, eager to know the particulars of Father Theobald’s attainder, he left Almeria to her sympathizing friends, and ventured to the Casa. Arrived at Lisbon, he found Don Arthurio, with Anthony, preparing to quit their splendid abode, as it was immediately after the venerable priest’s departure, subject to people put in by the tribunal. Here, Theodore learnt that he had been conveyed away with all the mystery so usual to them; but not before he had announced the court’s intention of calling up the witnesses necessary to Frederico and Signor Jerome’s final acquittal. This communication had taken place on the evening previous to Father Theobald’s seizure, and they had just received due notice to attend accordingly.
“At least, then,” observed Theodore, “a part of our suspense will be concluded, and the deliverance of our friends will certainly follow; but my heart bleeds when I consider the price of that deliverance.—Worthy inestimable Theobald! what a sacrifice must be offered up in thy guileless life to cruelty and heedlessness!” Don Arthurio joined in this tender apostrophe, and both agreed in their respective eulogium on the excellence of a character so barbarously treated.
BLUNDERS REPAIRED IN CHARACTER.
TO explain the several events that hung upon inquisitorial decision, we must introduce our readers, for the last time, to that awful tribunal; where justice, as well as mercy, too often yielded their precious privileges to the decrees of unrelenting severity and hardened self importance. After a private and tedious examination of those proofs adduced by Don Arthurio Gonzales in favour of the prisoners, and which the great Padrillo evidently attempted to confound by subtle sophistry, invidious reflections, and puzzling questions, he remanded them back to the place of public business, where the young Marquis Frederico and his companion Jerome, with Count Theodore, were waiting in anxious expectation of the consequences of this decisive stroke, but their appearance produced no immediate satisfaction to Frederico and his friends. A frigid silence followed the witnesses’ re-entrance, who were placed at a distance from every other person, while all eyes were turned towards the great door, which was left open for the judge; when, to the surprize of all, and the utter regret of the few by whom he was admired from interested motives, a person entered to announce his incapability of filling the sacred chair, owing to an epileptic fit; a complaint not unusual to him, and by which he had been suddenly seized. This communication was followed by the entry of a majestic looking figure, who, in the event of Lord Padrillo’s absence, a circumstance that frequently happened, mounted the first inquisitor’s throne, and exercised the usual functions of that high office; a business to which he was undoubtedly competent, from acting in that capacity for many years at the Brazils.
After reading to himself the depositions just taken by his holy brother, this able veteran went through a slight but clear investigation of those circumstances, a knowledge of which he could not obtain from Don Arthurio, and this he effected with a celerity very seldom practised by that formal court. The case of Father Theobald was next taken into consideration; whose character was evidently held in high veneration by his new judge, nor did he scruple to express his pity for that good but misled being, for so he called him. An order was then issued to bring up the venerable culprit, and during its execution, Frederico had an opportunity, unchecked by the frowns and half stifled exclamations of Father Dominick, his professed enemy, to prejudice this unbiassed judge in his favour. The appearance of those deputed to conduct Father Theobald interrupted Frederico, and he threw a glance of tender pity upon the prisoner, as he advanced with a quick unequal step between his guards, who attempted to confine him to their own solemn motion. Shocked to behold one equal to himself (in office, and not inferior in his great qualities) thus disgracefully manacled, his whole form enveloped in a coarse garment, his head and face nearly covered with an ordinary cowl, and forbidden even to exercise the alertness common perhaps to him, our candid deputy ordered the officers to disencumber the prisoner of his degrading shackles, and also to deliver him from the hot and heavy clothing by which he was so evidently incommoded. One of the guards, instead of obeying, respectfully informed the inquisitor, that a compliance with his commands might be attended with considerable danger, as their prisoner had evinced undoubted signs of insanity. At this assertion, the unhappy captive gave strong proofs of the most violent indignation, pointing as well as he could towards his mouth. “He is gagged, my lord,” continued the man, “for the language he used nearly amounted to blasphemy! not sparing even the sacred person of our most holy father the Pope.” “Unhappy effects of mistaken zeal,” cried the candid inquisitor, “Too delicate in his notions, and too firmly persuaded of the wound he had given his hitherto unimpeachable character, by deviating from the rules of a court which, till then, he had been a worthy member, his mind was not strong enough to support such a reverse of situation; it is therefore my decided opinion, that he should be taken from hence, and treated in the manner best calculated to restore his deranged intellects.”
To this arrangement no objection was offered, and the poor prisoner was forcibly led from the bar, while his dreadful emotions filled every heart with compassion. Frederico was particularly affected: a noble mind once vigorous, comprehensive, and benevolent, thus reduced, thrown from its equilibrium, and plunged into irreparable ruin—what a reflection for the man who felt himself responsible, in a degree, for what he then beheld. Regardless, therefore, of the censure he might incur by deviating from established custom, our young Marquis ventured to approach the poor maniac; who seeing him advance, stopped, and struggled to free one of his hands, which he eagerly held out; but, with an action descriptive of his situation, immediately withdrew it, and made a violent attempt to remove the gag. In this he so far succeeded, as to be able to pronounce the words “Hear me?” “He shall be attended to,” said Padrillo’s deputy, overhearing the emphatical request, “lead him hither.” This was done without any opposition on the prisoner’s part, who cheerfully obeyed the peremptory command; while with a tenderness that would have done honour to humanity, and defied every selfish fear, the Grand Judge surveyed his helpless state; assisting even to remove the tormenting impediment to speech, and free his limbs from their troublesome bondage. No sooner was this generous purpose effected, than the liberated creature threw off his heavy disguise, presenting to the astonished audience the identical figure of——Patrick Derrick!
For two or three minutes all was unutterable silence: even the deputy was deprived of his usual presence of mind. Father Dominick gazed in malignant astonishment. The guards exhibited the portraits of terror. Count Theodore was tempted to believe in phantoms; while Signor Jerome, with De Tavora, felt divided between wonder and regret. But, as it had never been Derrick’s practice to keep any one in ignorance of his motives, whether friend or foe, he found himself upon this occasion, less inclinable than ever to break through his usual customs; although he pondered a little upon the manner in which he should announce himself. At length, addressing the inquisitor, he complimented him upon his exemption from that “pride and severity which distinguished all the owld Reverendissimos of that court, who were all more mad than he was, for supposing that an honest Irishman would leave his friend in the lurch; as to the good owld Theobald, who was as innocent of his escape as Father Abraham, or any other saint in the calendar, being why ***” Here Patrick’s intended eulogium was interrupted by several questions from the deputed judge, relative to his strange appearance there, his being brought thither by the guards under the idea that they were conducting Father Theobald, and in what manner he again became subject to the tribunal. “Avast, my lord,” cried Derrick, who in the joy of his heart, at once more meeting the friends he loved, had forgotten the penalties attending indiscriminate loquaciousness, “Avast! you are upon a wrong tack, and bring too many guns to bear at once; therefore fair and softly, one at a time, and every shot will tell.” “My lord,” said Father Dominick, “this unprecedented insolence ought not to be tolerated.” “Who talked to you, owld Cerberus, howld your tongue, and be asy can’t you; sure now, and I wasn’t spaking to you.” “Speak to the point prisoner,” commanded the judge, “and remember where you are.” “O yes, that I do indeed, my lord, and was posting full sail into the wake of your maning, if this jontlemin hadn’t clapped a stopper on my tongue.”
To a language so new, and a behaviour so adverse to any thing he had ever witnessed in that court, the inquisitor hardly knew how to suit his reprimand; for that indiscribable humour, which gave interest to all our Irishman uttered, though his pronunciation was so defective, would have conquered even the gravity of age itself, in any place less tenacious of its privileges. However, Patrick perceiving his error, and recollecting somewhat of his former mortifications, proceeded in a more decent way (although interlarded with his usual expletives) to inform the court, that “from the time he had heard of Father Theobald’s commitment upon his account, his poor brain was quite bewildered and full of emptiness; that is,” said this self corrector, “it was blown up with grief, as well as my heart. At last I began to think, sure now, an exchange is no robbery; and why not offer body for body, seeing as how Irish oak may do as well to make a bonfire with, as any owld withered stick of a Portuguese, though perhaps I didn’t always think so. Well, and so I e’en quitted the little ship Caduceus; and delivered myself up to one of your devilish—no, no, I mane one of your merciful,*** (here he made an arch inclination of his body) yes, my lord, one of your merciful officials; and he—O by my conscience now, if he didn’t dress me up as warm and as snug as a Siberian bear, that he did in truth; and when I would have expostulated a little with him, in my way d’ye see, why he saddled my jaws with a pair of nutcrackers, so that I couldn’t spake a word without howlding my tongue; but finding me pretty quick, he took off that cursed iron. Well, then he thrust me into a dismal hole, where I lay till this blessed morning, when they brought me to a chamber where poor Father Theobald had been confined.”
“Had been confined,” repeated the judge, and addressing himself to the guards, “why is he not now there?” “No, most holy father,” returned one of them, “and that has caused this mistake; for when your lordship commanded us to bring the prisoner, we went to the Father’s room, and found only this man, who said so many impious things,”—“It’s an infernal ***” Patrick could not finish his imprudent denunciation, so much was he checked by a severe look from the inquisitor, who demanded how it was possible to take such a person for an aged priest? “Aye, how indeed, my lord, for I towld them I was an honest Irish jontlemin, and had nothing to do with any such blood-sucking cannibals.” Another stern glance silenced the loquacious prisoner, and the gaoler went on, “We were deceived, my lord, by an opinion that this fellow was mad; and being but lately admitted to this holy employment, had never seen the other prisoner.” “And yet you knew the room in which he was confined?” “True, holy father, of that we were informed by one that formerly attended in that part of the prison.” “Enquire then, for the other delinquent.”
Happy to escape without further censure, the men glided away to execute this command; while our candid deputy proceeded to pronounce a final sentence upon Frederico and Signor Jerome, whom he did not keep long in suspence; declaring from all the evidence he could collect, all the proofs they had been able to substantiate, the depositions formerly taken, and even from Lord Padrillo’s representation, which had been made to him in the preceding week, that he felt himself perfectly justified in giving his suffrage in favour of Frederico Marquis de Tavora, and Almeria his wife, asserting that they were innocent of the heinous crime attached to their charge; in consequence, those friends who had been accused of abetting and concealing the supposed crime, were likewise cleared by the same sentence.
“Huzza! huzza!” cried Derrick, at the same time throwing up a wig that pretty much resembled a rook’s nest, and which alighted exactly upon Father Dominick’s shaven crown; who shook off the indelicate covering with an air of bitter disgust, “Huzza! my good one: by my conscience now, owld Solomon himself niver gave a better jidgement? No, not even when he overhauled dame nature, and steered her safely through the shoals and quicksands of treachery.” And then turning to Father Dominick, whose contemptuous rejection of the coarse favour so accidentally conferred, had not escaped our Irishman’s notice, he frankly assured him, that “however a greasy jasey might disgrace a friar’s head, it could do no injury to his heart, since that was too black to receive any damage from trifles, and too deeply intrenched by cunning and cruelty to be injured by common assaults.”
All this nonsense was delivered with a rapidity not to be opposed; yet, had not the venerable Theobald’s appearance diverted that torrent of resentment, which even the deputy could scarcely repress, and Dominick sought not to restrain, it is possible Derrick might have found cause to repent his mischievous volubility; but so much was the attention of every one present engaged by the meek submission, yet firm dignity which adorned the Father’s venerable countenance, and impressive manner, that neither Count Theodore, or his liberated friends, could indulge their joyful emotions, while the ultimate promoter of such happiness was not in a situation to rejoice with them. Even Derrick could not restrain the flowing tear, while he muttered a petition for forgiveness to that patient sufferer from whom he received a heavenly smile, indicating peace and pardon. Father Dominick then began to recapitulate the prisoner’s offence, in holding at defiance the pious establishments of a society of which he was an unworthy member, by setting at liberty a supposed criminal, for whose security he was responsible; and although the same person had again surrendered himself, yet it could not exonerate Father Theobald from the penalties annexed to his crime. “True,” observed the candid deputy, “for I am clearly of my pious brother’s opinion, that every slight shewn to our court ought to meet retributive punishment, and shall proceed accordingly.” He then ordered the hall to be cleared of every person but the aged prisoner, and those who composed the sacred tribunal
This was an event which, however it tortured Patrick’s insatiable curiosity, gratified him in a material instance; by giving him an opportunity of congratulating his friends upon their deliverance,—condoling with them the Reverend Theobald’s fate—and condemning his own thoughtless cruelty in accelerating it. It was impossible for people so fully impressed with a sense of this rough diamond’s interior worth, to behold his evident penitence, without according a full and free pardon for his involuntary fault; and so much were his spirits raised by their gracious manner, that he began to plot against the remorseless Padrillo, and his servile auxiliary Father Dominick, before his own safety was secured.
As soon as the deputy perceived himself at full liberty to speak his sentiments, he again touched upon the ill effects of departing from the line of conduct established in a court so sacred; naming various instances which he had witnessed abroad of such a pernicious deriliction: “One of which I believe comes under your cognizance, brother Dominick.” “I disclaim your reference, my lord,” replied the offended priest, whose cheek betrayed a confusion he would have hidden. “Perhaps the crime I hint at, may not come exactly under the head of contempt of our rules, but it is certainly subject to inquisitorial censure, since it was committed by an ecclesiastic.” “You speak in riddles, holy father.”—“I speak but a plain, yet horrid truth, when I affirm, that Isaac Polygon, once resident in the Brazils, entrusted me but yesterday, in the way of confession, with an assurance that Father Dominick Calivari, had formerly aided and abetted him in the diabolical scheme of robbing his wife’s nieces of ***” “I see I am betrayed,” said the treacherous priest, “and also for what reason: Polygon is a villain! but that is of no consequence.—Dispose of my opinion as you please, in favour of Father Theobald, but permit me to retire.” “Not till our suffrages are collected,” replied the benevolent deputy. He then applied for them to three other inquisitors, who readily pronounced the good Father perfectly innocent of intentional defiance; and secured by the solemn seal of secrecy, which was never violated by any of the members, Father Theobald saw himself once more in a situation to rejoice with his friends, and recover his consequence as Second Inquisitor in Criminal Causes: while Father Dominick, happy to escape the horrors of a prosecution, which must totally ruin his ambitious hope of further preferment, congratulated the venerable sufferer with a cringing servility, characteristic of his principles.
Nothing now remained but a formal discharge of the prisoners; who were again summoned for that purpose, and also to take the usual oath of secrecy upon every subject relative to all they had seen, heard, or said, during their abode within those gloomy walls. As this was well known to be an indispensable ceremony, it was cheerfully complied with by Signor Jerome and the young Marquis; but Derrick, who had not so good an opinion of his own powers of retention, demurred to the request; affirming, that “he never kept a sacret in his life, and he was sure he could not answer to his conscience to keep this: becase why, the divulging of it might save many a poor sowl from running blindfold into Beelzebub’s bosom, to be burnt, pinched, and scratched by his merciless dilligates.”—“Ill-fated fool,” cried the exasperated Jerome, “are you determined to be the destruction of us all?” “Perhaps,” said the patient deputy, in a cool sarcastical manner, “he is unacquainted with our modes of proceeding towards the refractory:—guards, shew him the torture room!” A door was then thrown open opposite to our obstinate Irishman, who immediately recollected the place in which he had been so extremely terrified; and shuddering with apprehension, he begged the secretary to administer the oath, sacredly promising to keep profound silence in Portugal—“And every where else,” added Father Dominick, who enjoyed his agitation. Derrick would have put in a caveat to this addition, but the fatal door remaining open, his eye was involuntarily attracted by the formidable instruments that were displayed in dreadful disorder, and he went through the ceremony without further limitation.
The tribunal then broke up, as it was past midnight. Father Theobald, who still felt a pang of degradation, although mixed with an impatient wish to congratulate the liberated gentlemen under his own roof, proposed their adjournment thither, which was gratefully accepted; and on their way home, Derrick (being included in the party) made so many awkward attempts to renew the late subject, that brought him under general censure; and the venerable priest declared himself obliged to take severe cognizance of a behaviour so inimical to the oath he had taken. Thus effectually silenced, the restless mortal evinced his disappointment by various awkward grimaces.
CHAPTER THE LAST.
TRIUMPH OF PATIENCE.
AS if the various trials our heroine had undergone, were insufficient to establish her character, as a woman of fortitude, she was fated still to endure the pains of harassing expectation, and to endure it ungratified by any progressive elucidation; for a dark cloud still hovered over a prospect, which her venerable friends knew not how to remove; and a melancholy day and night elapsed, uncheered with any certain hope of a speedy revolution. She knew, indeed, that Father Theobald’s case was upon the point of decision; for this intelligence had escaped Sir Henry, in his zeal for that truly estimable priest; but whether the Marquis’s fate would be ascertained at the same time, he could not easily determine. It was impossible, in a situation so perplexing, to support a cheerful conversation; and as Lady Almeria had ever avoided the usual custom of lightening her own heart, by loading those of her friends, she wandered away from their society, to indulge in the profound solitude of the nearest vineyard.
Thus engaged, she heeded not the approach of Sir Henry Tillotson, till awakened from her reverie, by his calling upon her name, she started—looked up—and saw him accompanied by several ladies, whom she immediately recognized as Francisca and Anica S-forza, and her affectionate companion Laurana de Lima, whose sable dress announced some new misfortune. Impatient to embrace her friend, Laurana released her arm from the Baronet, and flew towards her; when, after a most affectionate embrace, she informed the sympathizing Almeria, that her venerable grandsire had paid the debt of nature; and that in consequence of this loss, she directly quitted Tavora for Lisbon, and had arrived on the preceding night at the Casa of Don Carlos; where, from Signora Francisca (to whom she was indebted for a prior invitation) she learnt all that Lady knew respecting Almeria's situation. Already softened by her own painful meditations, the young Marchioness shed many tears for the death of one so truly dear, as they slowly proceeded to her little cottage; but in compliance with that generous sentiment which made such an amiable feature in her character, she strove to assume a tranquil manner; and Lady Tillotson felt happy to see in prospect, the good effect of Laurana’s arrival; who, with her agreeable companions, Francisca and Anica, used every effort in their power, to sooth and amuse their beloved Almeria. “Do you not perceive,” observed Francisca, “a certain improvement in my sister’s countenance?” “I do,” replied our heroine, “she looks unusually animated.” “No wonder, my dear, she has received a visit this morning from Alonzo de Castro: and pr’ythe Anica, lay aside that prudish air?” “I am not prudish, Francisca, but you are”—“Imprudent, ridiculous! granted child: however as the company may be ignorant of your attachment to the Signor, I will only say, that it is the person whom our worthy guardian would have superceded in the Brazils.”
The appearance of a carriage, followed by a numerous cavalcade of servants, through a vista in the orange grove, (as it just shewed itself upon the distant road, that wound in intricate mazes before the front of the cottage) diverted Francisca’s attention from her confused, but happy sister; and she ran to a side window, to catch another view of the superb equipage. Before she could amuse herself with any conjectures respecting the destination of a coach, evidently calculated more for shew than celerity, Sir Henry left his chair, and joined her at the window; when Lisetta suddenly approaching, delivered a note, at the same time informing him, that it was brought by a very odd looking person, who she believed had been at the cottage before, and which proved to be Manuel, Jerome’s servant. Almeria glanced at the note, and listened to Lisetta’s opinion respecting the messenger, with a trembling earnestness; while the Baronet was secretly reproaching himself for not guarding her against a surprise, which he foresaw might produce some dangerous consequence; for the paper contained an intimation, that the prisoners were acquitted, and upon the road to Lady Almeria’s residence.
There was no time for consulting his wife, upon the most cautious manner of breaking this business to her friend, for the coach was again in sight, and soon came near enough to discern Derrick’s bulky frame, and enraptured visage, as he extended himself beyond the window; and maugre every attempt to prevent it, thrust out a silk handkerchief tied to his oaken stick, waving it with a tolerable grace; excluding those within it from the slightest view of their friends, as they eagerly removed the lattice to recognize their visitors. The appearance of Patrick, who was supposed to be on his way to England, was but the prelude to one of a more interesting nature; and before Almeria could testify her astonishment at a sight so unexpected, she—but to attempt a regular description of her feelings, and those of her long lost—long lamented husband, as he clasped her to a bosom that throbbed with a thousand sweet emotions, would rather expose our inability to paint such affecting scenes, than gratify the sympathizing reader. Turn we then, for a moment to Patrick Derrick, who somewhat rudely put himself at the head of Don Arthurio, Count Theodore, and Signor Jerome; giving way, however, to the impetuous Marquis, as first in command: “Seeing as how, it would be a pity to stop a man in his chace of the prettiest frigate in all Portugal.” The sight of Signora Francisca weeping over her senseless friend, (for excessive joy had obtained a powerful victory over Lady Almeria’s feeble faculties) soon changed the form of Derrick’s laughing features; and he declared, he would rather face a Turk in his fury, than see a lovely woman cry.—Francisca turned—gave him her hand—and discovered a countenance nearly restored to its usual animation; and as the young Marchioness was evidently recovering, it soon regained its arch expression. Derrick saw the alteration—rejoiced at the cause—and approaching the delighted—still agitated pair, poured forth his congratulations in a stile, rather better suited to his own conception, than the sense of the company. Don Arthurio, as an ancient (consequently) proud Castilian, knew not how to estimate that worth, which made such abruptness excusable; but Signor Jerome took his Irish favourite’s part, with an energy that highly gratified his female friends.
“At last, then, my beloved niece,” said Count Theodore, addressing the young Marchioness, “you are once more upon the point of settling your claim to mortal felicity: may every succeeding day strengthen that claim, and then I shall put in mine for a share of the welcome stranger’s attention.” “No one, my dearest uncle,” replied Almeria in a feeble tone, “has a greater right to happiness, than the man who regarded his own life, merely as it might be a means of procuring ease and comfort to others.—We” and she turned a humid eye upon her supporting husband, “have experienced your wonderful ability and inclination to serve two hapless beings:—in the dark cell—the wild forest”—“Yes,” added the grateful Frederico, “and to Count Theodore, we are indebted for those interpositions which have so miraculously succeeded.—O! my love, how many friends have your sufferings—your innocence procured for us! although to this generous nobleman,” here he arose, and led Don Arthurio to his lady, who reeived him with her usual grace, “I owe my deliverance from a disgraceful confinement, and our exoneration from unjust obloquy; your purity was the ostensible inducement in ***”—“Stop, Marquis,” said the cautious Theodore, for he half feared that the conclusion of this speech might detract so much from the Castilian’s merit, who had certainly ventured much to this happy eclairissement, as to bring upon Frederico the imputation of ingratitude: “Stop, I repeat, there is nothing so galling to a generous spirit, as listening to commendations which he cannot answer. If any one present, have contributed to this scene of general joy, they have their reward; and, in interdicting any further effusion of these tender acknowledgments, I speak but the wishes of all present;” bowing respectfully to those concerned in them, “and now, permit me,” added he, “to account for the tender partiality existing between my niece Laurana and her beloved Almeria;—but perhaps I am to blame, in making an addition to that sweet surprise, which has so materially affected my worthy child?”
“Count Theodore is an excellent judge of human nature,” observed Signor Jerome, who guessed at his purpose, “and we may trust to his discretion.” “Thank you, Cavalier, but what says my child, to a proposal which has already deepened the faint tint of her varying cheek?” “O sir,” returned the lovely woman, and glancing expressively upon her enraptured Frederico, “nothing can surprise now!” “Really! why then approach, my Laurana, and embrace your sister—your real sister—the daughter of Theodora Duchess of D’Aveiro, (whose portrait has so often occasioned to her children such bitter sensations,) and grand daughter to the late illustrious Baron de Lima.” “And is it indeed so! art thou, sweet Laurana, my sister indeed? whose pity when torn from that honourable assylum, I then thought the mere emanation of feminine tenderness, and knew not the true source from whence it was derived!” “Yes, my Almeria, I am indeed the daughter of that suffering creature; whose pensive countenance exhibited such striking traits of you, as often beguiled the venerable Baron, and myself, of the tender tear. You, I am sensible, have sometimes wondered at that shade of melancholy, nay anguish, which a contemplation of that sweet portrait never failed to excite: but ah! you knew not that I mourned—a father—a mother—consigned to ***”—“O, that father! that mother!” exclaimed the Marchioness, bursting into tears, and sensible of nothing in that cruel moment, but the certainty of their poignant misery: “Often have I, in the sad and silent hour, dwelt upon their terrible fate! come then to my arms, dear participator of my griefs; yes, we will weep together a loss which nothing can supply.” “Nothing?” repeated the young Marquis, as he fondly clasped the lovely sisters. “Forgive the thoughtless expression, beloved husband of my heart, and place it to any cause rather than neglect of thee.”
“I have been wrong,” said Count Theodore, “in trifling with feelings already too highly raised: pardon me, sweet sisters, and you, Lord Marquis, excuse the error.” “Never was error so sweetly acknowledged, if it be one, which yet I cannot fully allow, since this explanation might have taken place at a more uncongenial season.” “Thank you, my dear nephew, and by way of compensating entirely for it, I move that the ladies should adjourn, for the purpose of composing their agitated spirits.” “And I move,” cried Derrick, who was happy to put in a word, “for an address to owld Polygon; to whose plotting avaricious diabolical spirit all this is owing: for sure now, if he hadn’t been the wickedest owld divil in all christendom, he could niver have done so much good!” “Your logic is meant to be unanswerable,” replied Signor Jerome, “since we are told that out of evil comes good; but in allowing for this position, we deny the usefulness of Don Arthurio, Count Theodore, yourself, and others, in bringing about, under Providence, such extraordinary events.”—“Inquisitors, and all that, Signor, you know,” winking, nodding, and assuming his archest stile of countenance, “Hay, Signor, and what harm?—I’m no free-mason—can’t hang me for thinking!” “But they may for speaking, imprudent man:” retorted the angry Castilian, “and you have taken a solemn oath, not to betray the secrets of that most holy tribunal.” “Sacrets! truly now, as if a holy sacret ought to be kept! why I will tell what it is now,—a good sacret cannot be towld too soon; and faith, but a bad one isn’t worth keeping: however, I’ll beat up owld Beelzebub’s quarters, and tell him how much good he has done by making us all so miserable.” He then, seeing there was no opportunity of enjoying the society of his Francisca, hastened off, to put his mischievous design into execution; leaving to the Marquis, Sir Henry, the Count, and Cavalier, the task of reconciling Don Arthurio to his rude manners; whose religious, or rather superstitious principles, had received such a shock from the thoughtless being, as required the united force of those gentlemen to set aside.
Impatient to complete his triumph over the man of science, Derrick mounted one of the servant’s mules, and spurring the sluggish beast with an impetuosity that marked his profession, soon found himself at the Casa of Don Carlos; where, hastily alighting, he requested to see that gentleman; who, he had been told, was well acquainted with Polygon’s abode, and by whom he was directed to a wretched house in the suburbs. Leaving, therefore, his sure-footed nag at an inn, he made the best of his way to the dirty dwelling. Full of his intention to retaliate upon the unhappy wretch, some of the mortifications he had endured from his base conduct, Derrick observed not the contrast of Polygon’s situation; till after repeated denials from the old woman, who acted as housekeeper and nurse, he was introduced to a back room upon the ground floor, and perceived his wretched opponent seated at a small window, before a little table covered with mutilated dirty papers, which he was attempting to sort and examine. At the noise Patrick made in entering, he intuitively, as we may say, gathered the objects of his painful attention into his hand, and thrust them into the table drawer; then turning slowly round, discovered to our half astonished Irishman, a countenance on which sickness, poverty, and disappointment, had set a sure and fatal seal.—The look of anguish and terror which he cast upon his unwelcome visitor, would nearly have set aside Derrick’s intention to be mischievously provoking, if the idea of such a being forming views of an amorous nature upon his lively Francisca, had not given a fresh fillup to his peculiar eloquence; nor did the papers so hastily secreted, contribute to lessen the force of it.
“Why, how now, little Isaac, what new compact are you studying?—hay, owld dry bones!—some new agreement with your master, I suppose, before the owld one is concluded; or a fresh scheme perhaps, to cheat the revenue!—Let’s see—mayhap you may want a witness:” drawing some of the papers from their assylum, notwithstanding Polygon’s feeble attempts to prevent him, “and if you want a testimony of your good qualities, why I’m the body to give it, d’ye see!” “Neither one nor the other, Mr. Derrick,” replied he, speaking with much difficulty, “I was only making a calculation of the next eclipse.”—“Or rather, trying how to get out of the shade yourself! for methinks you are pretty much down in the mouth; but take courage, owld one,—by my conscience now, there’s one below will give you a lift yet, even to the very bottom of his dominions; and yet, it’s as well to make a sure bargain; for his seconds in command there, General Beelzebub’s arch dilligates, is waiting to pop you into limbo, and give you a specimen before-hand, of the treatment you are like to receive from that diabolical veteran.” “I do not understand your tropes and metaphors,” said the exhausted creature. “O, don’t ye, honey! why then, ask Signor Jerome—Frederico—his pretty wife—and my own self, sure now, how they liked—the forks and the wheels, and the gridirons and the racks, and all the rest of St. Dominick’s implements, that you were so kind as to recommend to their notice:—hay! don’t ye understand me now, cunning Isaac?”
Polygon trembled at the unwelcome hint; but artfully informed the Captain he was betraying secrets!—“All the better for you, old boy; for then you’ll be at no loss for a tale when you get there.” “There!—where?” cried the thoroughly vexed Polygon. “Where!—why in the inquisition, sure now; where you will be before to-morrow night.” At this dreadful intelligence, a certain confession rushed upon his memory, which he had made to the deputy inquisitor; and he saw himself in imagination, subject to Derrick’s list of tormenting implements.—At a thought so replete with terror, a cold perspiration bedewed his countenance, and sinking back in his chair—he groaned—sobbed—and fainted! Patrick gazed upon the unhappy creature with sensations not devoid of pity, while the nurse, who had followed him into the room, was busied in the use of volatiles; which she feared were needless, as his features seemed shrunk by the hand of death. “By St. Anthony, he will never recover, Signor;” said the terrified woman, “this is the worst fit he ever had, and I am sure he has had twenty within these few days!” Still Derrick spoke not: for his conscience accused him of hastening the poor creatures destiny; and so much was he affected by the awful scene, that the ready tear began to flow.
At length a smothered groan broke from the heaving chest; Polygon struggled, and slowly evinced signs of recollection: at last his speech returned—he unclosed his heavy eye, and seeing Derrick assiduously supporting him, gently squeezed the hand that was next him, and feebly asked the heart struck Irishman, to forgive a monster who had introduced so much misery to him and his friends; adding a pathetic request, that he would, if possible, procure the pardon of those he had so cruelly treated. “And that I will, by my sowl now, Isaac; so cheer up, and get well as soon as you can.”—“Yes, Mr. Derrick, to linger out a miserable existence in the inquisition.”—“Psha! honey, niver heed that; why, I only hung out false colours to draw you into the wake of repentance.” “But will you,—will you indeed?” interrupted the dying creature, who again sunk helpless in his chair, “will you get—my pardon!—signed!” “O, sure now, and didn’t I tell you so before?” “Then, heaven forgive—me too!” faultered out the poor man, and drawing his hand hastily from Patrick’s grasp,—sighed convulsively, and—spoke no more!
A death so sudden, and which he could not help attributing to the shock his words had occasioned, was more than our Hibernian could easily endure; he even stamped with fury; execrating his own heedlessness in a way that greatly alarmed the nurse, who was not sorry to see him depart, as she began to think him insane.
Prior to his return to the cottage, the happy circle he had left, had reassembled to enjoy the sweets of a conversation, which had every charm to recommend it. Recovered from the transports occasioned by such a meeting, Almeria, with her beloved Marquis, took the earliest opportunity of detailing their late misfortunes to their sympathizing friends; who felt themselves still more endeared to the worthy couple—more convinced of their excellence—and more ready to execrate the cause of so much of their sorrows as originated in Polygon’s treachery, by the temperate manner in which they expressed their sense of it. Don Arthurio then proposed his palace at Seville for their reception, till they should be disposed to visit Amesbury, to which place the whole of this delighted society, were pressingly invited by Sir Henry Tillotson and his Lady; but a proposal so contrary to Count Theodore’s private arrangement, met with his decided opposition: for, as co-heiress, with Laurana, to the Duchess D’Aveiro’s private jointure, which had escaped confiscation, the young Marchioness was necessitated to take personal possession of it; and, as it lay in the kingdom of Algarve, and but a few leagues from Tavora, Count Theodore urged the propriety of their return to his late father’s estate—now become his.
As this claim could not be overrated, it was finally settled, that after a visit to that place, they should all adjourn to Don Arthurio’s palace; and from thence to England. This gave much satisfaction to the venerable Castilian, who declared Frederico presumptive heir to his estates in right of the deceased Alzira; while Count Theodore confessed his intention of leaving his whole property to the two heiresses; settling upon each of them, a sum adequate to the situation of both. “You act with considerable generosity, my friend,” said the delighted Gonzales, “therefore, whatever sum you shall nominate for Almeria’s use, I will double to the Marquis her husband.” It was exactly at this period of their conversation, that the appearance of Captain Derrick prevented the acknowledgments which were bursting from the happy trio, who felt themselves so much obliged by such a splendid arrangement. Entering in a confused sort of way, he abruptly seated himself by the door, and began to whistle. “Something is wrong, my dear sir,” whispered the anxious Almeria.—“Wrong! yes—I am wrong—you are wrong—and we are all wrong, for letting a poor crazy hulk sink, without making some effort to prevent its foundering!” “You have seen Polygon, I presume?” asked Signor Jerome, who suspected some mischief from that quarter. “O yes, and you may say that, poor sowl; yes, I have seen him sure enough;—for the last time too!” Here the tear of remembrance, or rather regret, again poured over his honest countenance;—a phenomenon so strange to those who knew his hatred of that once miserable man, that they with one voice entreated to know the cause of his agitation. “Why, he’s dead, I tell you:—dead, upon my sowl —and I killed him!” “Then you must fly, dear Derrick,” said Sir Henry; who, with the others, supposed he had really sacrificed the poor wretch to his resentment: but, when in compliance with their earnest entreaties, he briefly informed them of what had happened, all present joined in clearing him from any intentional cruelty: and he felt rather reassured; and the more, when Francisca frankly protested he had lost no credit with her, by his treatment of a man who, though she freely forgave him, was by no means entitled to her commiseration. Anica owned a similar sentiment; and peace and hope again laughed in Derrick’s expressive eye, while he caught from Francisca’s the glance of amity and love; which he rightly translated into an assurance that she would soon meet him at the altar; a circumstance which took place on their arrival in England.
The appearance of Manuel, who then approached with refreshments, awakened an ardent curiosity to know what befel that worthy servant, after his dear master’s commitment; his statement was brief: importing, that previous to his departure for Chamouny, he ran to Count Theodore’s little assylum; but finding no one there, he prepared to visit his father’s abode; when, having reached Alicant, he was detained with a friend, till the news arrived of the attachment being taken from the Tavora family. Conceiving himself at liberty to return, and eager to know if his beloved master was emancipated, to whose attention to Almeria he attributed that gentleman’s misfortune, he returned just time enough to meet him at Father Theobald’s; and after congratulating the Cavalier upon his liberation, was dispatched with the beforementioned note to Sir Henry Tillotson. Derrick was happy to run over with his convivial friend, the particulars of their last unfortunate meeting; while Don Arthurio noticed the warmth of Patrick’s expressions, which, so great is the influence of real worth over a candid though lofty spirit, that he could not help observing, that such intrinsic goodness ought to be rewarded, although transplanted from a foreign soil.
“O, soil, did you say, honey? come, come, no reflection upon soil:—Portugal, indeed, is out of the question; becase now, she always loved little England!” Here he threw up his hat with three cheers, and then went on, “But belave me, owld Reverendissimo, the time is not far distant, when Albion and Hibernia shall know no difference of opinion; but strongly—firmly—and invariably unite in the great—the just—the glorious cause—of
KING AND COUNTRY!