The Castle of Otranto

 

THE

Castle of Otranto.


 

BY

HORACE WALPOLE.



CASSELL AND COMPANY, Limited

LONDON,PARIS,
NEW YORK &
MELBOURNE


1901


INTRODUCTION


Horace Walpole was the youngest son
of Sir Robert Walpole, the great statesman, who died Earl of
Orford.  He was born in 1717, the year in which his father
resigned office, remaining in opposition for almost three years
before his return to a long tenure of power.  Horace Walpole
was educated at Eton, where he formed a school friendship with
Thomas Gray, who was but a few months older.  In 1739 Gray
was travelling-companion with Walpole in France and Italy until
they differed and parted; but the friendship was afterwards
renewed, and remained firm to the end.  Horace Walpole went
from Eton to King’s College, Cambridge, and entered
Parliament in 1741, the year before his father’s final
resignation and acceptance of an earldom.  His way of life
was made easy to him.  As Usher of the Exchequer,
Comptroller of the Pipe, and Clerk of the Estreats in the
Exchequer, he received nearly two thousand a year for doing
nothing, lived with his father, and amused himself.


Horace Walpole idled, and amused himself with the small life
of the fashionable world to which he was proud of belonging,
though he had a quick eye for its vanities.  He had social
wit, and liked to put it to small uses.  But he was not an
empty idler, and there were seasons when he could become a sharp
judge of himself.  “I am sensible,” he wrote to
his most intimate friend, “I am sensible of having more
follies and weaknesses and fewer real good qualities than most
men.  I sometimes reflect on this, though, I own, too
seldom.  I always want to begin acting like a man, and a
sensible one, which I think I might be if I would.” 
He had deep home affections, and, under many polite affectations,
plenty of good sense.


Horace Walpole’s father died in 1745.  The eldest
son, who succeeded to the earldom, died in 1751, and left a son,
George, who was for a time insane, and lived until 1791.  As
George left no child, the title and estates passed to Horace
Walpole, then seventy-four years old, and the only uncle who
survived.  Horace Walpole thus became Earl of Orford, during
the last six years of his life.  As to the title, he said
that he felt himself being called names in his old age.  He
died unmarried, in the year 1797, at the age of eighty.


He had turned his house at Strawberry Hill, by the Thames,
near Twickenham, into a Gothic villa—eighteenth-century
Gothic—and amused himself by spending freely upon its
adornment with such things as were then fashionable as objects of
taste.  But he delighted also in his flowers and his
trellises of roses, and the quiet Thames.  When confined by
gout to his London house in Arlington Street, flowers from
Strawberry Hill and a bird were necessary consolations.  He
set up also at Strawberry Hill a private printing press, at which
he printed his friend Gray’s poems, also in 1758 his own
“Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of
England,” and five volumes of “Anecdotes of Painting
in England,” between 1762 and 1771.


Horace Walpole produced The Castle of Otranto in 1765,
at the mature age of forty-eight.  It was suggested by a
dream from which he said he waked one morning, and of which
“all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an
ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head like mine, filled
with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost banister of a great
staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour.  In the evening I
sat down and began to write, without knowing in the least what I
intended to say or relate.”  So began the tale which
professed to be translated by “William Marshal, gentleman,
from the Italian of Onuphro Muralto, canon of the Church of St.
Nicholas, at Otranto.”  It was written in two
months.  Walpole’s friend Gray reported to him that at
Cambridge the book made “some of them cry a little, and all
in general afraid to go to bed o’ nights.” 
The Castle of Otranto was, in its own way, an early sign
of the reaction towards romance in the latter part of the last
century.  This gives it interest.  But it has had many
followers, and the hardy modern reader, when he read’s
Gray’s note from Cambridge, needs to be reminded of its
date.


H. M.


PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.


The following work was found in the library of an ancient
Catholic family in the north of England.  It was printed at
Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529.  How much
sooner it was written does not appear.  The principal
incidents are such as were believed in the darkest ages of
Christianity; but the language and conduct have nothing that
savours of barbarism.  The style is the purest Italian.


If the story was written near the time when it is supposed to
have happened, it must have been between 1095, the era of the
first Crusade, and 1243, the date of the last, or not long
afterwards.  There is no other circumstance in the work that
can lead us to guess at the period in which the scene is laid:
the names of the actors are evidently fictitious, and probably
disguised on purpose: yet the Spanish names of the domestics seem
to indicate that this work was not composed until the
establishment of the Arragonian Kings in Naples had made Spanish
appellations familiar in that country.  The beauty of the
diction, and the zeal of the author (moderated, however, by
singular judgment) concur to make me think that the date of the
composition was little antecedent to that of the
impression.  Letters were then in their most flourishing
state in Italy, and contributed to dispel the empire of
superstition, at that time so forcibly attacked by the
reformers.  It is not unlikely that an artful priest might
endeavour to turn their own arms on the innovators, and might
avail himself of his abilities as an author to confirm the
populace in their ancient errors and superstitions.  If this
was his view, he has certainly acted with signal address. 
Such a work as the following would enslave a hundred vulgar minds
beyond half the books of controversy that have been written from
the days of Luther to the present hour.


This solution of the author’s motives is, however,
offered as a mere conjecture.  Whatever his views were, or
whatever effects the execution of them might have, his work can
only be laid before the public at present as a matter of
entertainment.  Even as such, some apology for it is
necessary.  Miracles, visions, necromancy, dreams, and other
preternatural events, are exploded now even from romances. 
That was not the case when our author wrote; much less when the
story itself is supposed to have happened.  Belief in every
kind of prodigy was so established in those dark ages, that an
author would not be faithful to the manners of the times, who
should omit all mention of them.  He is not bound to believe
them himself, but he must represent his actors as believing
them.


If this air of the miraculous is excused, the reader will find
nothing else unworthy of his perusal.  Allow the possibility
of the facts, and all the actors comport themselves as persons
would do in their situation.  There is no bombast, no
similes, flowers, digressions, or unnecessary descriptions. 
Everything tends directly to the catastrophe.  Never is the
reader’s attention relaxed.  The rules of the drama
are almost observed throughout the conduct of the piece. 
The characters are well drawn, and still better maintained. 
Terror, the author’s principal engine, prevents the story
from ever languishing; and it is so often contrasted by pity,
that the mind is kept up in a constant vicissitude of interesting
passions.


Some persons may perhaps think the characters of the domestics
too little serious for the general cast of the story; but besides
their opposition to the principal personages, the art of the
author is very observable in his conduct of the subalterns. 
They discover many passages essential to the story, which could
not be well brought to light but by their
naïveté and simplicity.  In particular,
the womanish terror and foibles of Bianca, in the last chapter,
conduce essentially towards advancing the catastrophe.


It is natural for a translator to be prejudiced in favour of
his adopted work.  More impartial readers may not be so much
struck with the beauties of this piece as I was.  Yet I am
not blind to my author’s defects.  I could wish he had
grounded his plan on a more useful moral than this: that
“the sins of fathers are visited on their children to the
third and fourth generation.”  I doubt whether, in his
time, any more than at present, ambition curbed its appetite of
dominion from the dread of so remote a punishment.  And yet
this moral is weakened by that less direct insinuation, that even
such anathema may be diverted by devotion to St. Nicholas. 
Here the interest of the Monk plainly gets the better of the
judgment of the author.  However, with all its faults, I
have no doubt but the English reader will be pleased with a sight
of this performance.  The piety that reigns throughout, the
lessons of virtue that are inculcated, and the rigid purity of
the sentiments, exempt this work from the censure to which
romances are but too liable.  Should it meet with the
success I hope for, I may be encouraged to reprint the original
Italian, though it will tend to depreciate my own labour. 
Our language falls far short of the charms of the Italian, both
for variety and harmony.  The latter is peculiarly excellent
for simple narrative.  It is difficult in English to relate
without falling too low or rising too high; a fault obviously
occasioned by the little care taken to speak pure language in
common conversation.  Every Italian or Frenchman of any rank
piques himself on speaking his own tongue correctly and with
choice.  I cannot flatter myself with having done justice to
my author in this respect: his style is as elegant as his conduct
of the passions is masterly.  It is a pity that he did not
apply his talents to what they were evidently proper
for—the theatre.


I will detain the reader no longer, but to make one short
remark.  Though the machinery is invention, and the names of
the actors imaginary, I cannot but believe that the groundwork of
the story is founded on truth.  The scene is undoubtedly
laid in some real castle.  The author seems frequently,
without design, to describe particular parts.  “The
chamber,” says he, “on the right hand;”
“the door on the left hand;” “the distance from
the chapel to Conrad’s apartment:” these and other
passages are strong presumptions that the author had some certain
building in his eye.  Curious persons, who have leisure to
employ in such researches, may possibly discover in the Italian
writers the foundation on which our author has built.  If a
catastrophe, at all resembling that which he describes, is
believed to have given rise to this work, it will contribute to
interest the reader, and will make the “Castle of
Otranto” a still more moving story.


SONNET TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LADY MARY COKE.


The gentle maid, whose hapless tale

   These melancholy pages speak;

Say, gracious lady, shall she fail

   To draw the tear adown thy cheek?


No; never was thy pitying breast

   Insensible to human woes;

Tender, tho’ firm, it melts distrest

   For weaknesses it never knows.


Oh! guard the marvels I relate

Of fell ambition scourg’d by fate,

   From reason’s peevish blame.

Blest with thy smile, my dauntless sail

I dare expand to Fancy’s gale,

   For sure thy smiles are Fame.


H. W.


CHAPTER I.


Manfred, Prince of Otranto, had one son and one daughter: the
latter, a most beautiful virgin, aged eighteen, was called
Matilda.  Conrad, the son, was three years younger, a homely
youth, sickly, and of no promising disposition; yet he was the
darling of his father, who never showed any symptoms of affection
to Matilda.  Manfred had contracted a marriage for his son
with the Marquis of Vicenza’s daughter, Isabella; and she
had already been delivered by her guardians into the hands of
Manfred, that he might celebrate the wedding as soon as
Conrad’s infirm state of health would permit.


Manfred’s impatience for this ceremonial was remarked by
his family and neighbours.  The former, indeed, apprehending
the severity of their Prince’s disposition, did not dare to
utter their surmises on this precipitation.  Hippolita, his
wife, an amiable lady, did sometimes venture to represent the
danger of marrying their only son so early, considering his great
youth, and greater infirmities; but she never received any other
answer than reflections on her own sterility, who had given him
but one heir.  His tenants and subjects were less cautious
in their discourses.  They attributed this hasty wedding to
the Prince’s dread of seeing accomplished an ancient
prophecy, which was said to have pronounced that the castle and
lordship of Otranto “should pass from the present family,
whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit
it.”  It was difficult to make any sense of this
prophecy; and still less easy to conceive what it had to do with
the marriage in question.  Yet these mysteries, or
contradictions, did not make the populace adhere the less to
their opinion.


Young Conrad’s birthday was fixed for his
espousals.  The company was assembled in the chapel of the
Castle, and everything ready for beginning the divine office,
when Conrad himself was missing.  Manfred, impatient of the
least delay, and who had not observed his son retire, despatched
one of his attendants to summon the young Prince.  The
servant, who had not stayed long enough to have crossed the court
to Conrad’s apartment, came running back breathless, in a
frantic manner, his eyes staring, and foaming at the mouth. 
He said nothing, but pointed to the court.


The company were struck with terror and amazement.  The
Princess Hippolita, without knowing what was the matter, but
anxious for her son, swooned away.  Manfred, less
apprehensive than enraged at the procrastination of the nuptials,
and at the folly of his domestic, asked imperiously what was the
matter?  The fellow made no answer, but continued pointing
towards the courtyard; and at last, after repeated questions put
to him, cried out, “Oh! the helmet! the helmet!”


In the meantime, some of the company had run into the court,
from whence was heard a confused noise of shrieks, horror, and
surprise.  Manfred, who began to be alarmed at not seeing
his son, went himself to get information of what occasioned this
strange confusion.  Matilda remained endeavouring to assist
her mother, and Isabella stayed for the same purpose, and to
avoid showing any impatience for the bridegroom, for whom, in
truth, she had conceived little affection.


The first thing that struck Manfred’s eyes was a group
of his servants endeavouring to raise something that appeared to
him a mountain of sable plumes.  He gazed without believing
his sight.


“What are ye doing?” cried Manfred, wrathfully;
“where is my son?”


A volley of voices replied, “Oh! my Lord! the Prince!
the Prince! the helmet! the helmet!”


Shocked with these lamentable sounds, and dreading he knew not
what, he advanced hastily,—but what a sight for a
father’s eyes!—he beheld his child dashed to pieces,
and almost buried under an enormous helmet, an hundred times more
large than any casque ever made for human being, and shaded with
a proportionable quantity of black feathers.


The horror of the spectacle, the ignorance of all around how
this misfortune had happened, and above all, the tremendous
phenomenon before him, took away the Prince’s speech. 
Yet his silence lasted longer than even grief could
occasion.  He fixed his eyes on what he wished in vain to
believe a vision; and seemed less attentive to his loss, than
buried in meditation on the stupendous object that had occasioned
it.  He touched, he examined the fatal casque; nor could
even the bleeding mangled remains of the young Prince divert the
eyes of Manfred from the portent before him.


All who had known his partial fondness for young Conrad, were
as much surprised at their Prince’s insensibility, as
thunderstruck themselves at the miracle of the helmet.  They
conveyed the disfigured corpse into the hall, without receiving
the least direction from Manfred.  As little was he
attentive to the ladies who remained in the chapel.  On the
contrary, without mentioning the unhappy princesses, his wife and
daughter, the first sounds that dropped from Manfred’s lips
were, “Take care of the Lady Isabella.”


The domestics, without observing the singularity of this
direction, were guided by their affection to their mistress, to
consider it as peculiarly addressed to her situation, and flew to
her assistance.  They conveyed her to her chamber more dead
than alive, and indifferent to all the strange circumstances she
heard, except the death of her son.


Matilda, who doted on her mother, smothered her own grief and
amazement, and thought of nothing but assisting and comforting
her afflicted parent.  Isabella, who had been treated by
Hippolita like a daughter, and who returned that tenderness with
equal duty and affection, was scarce less assiduous about the
Princess; at the same time endeavouring to partake and lessen the
weight of sorrow which she saw Matilda strove to suppress, for
whom she had conceived the warmest sympathy of friendship. 
Yet her own situation could not help finding its place in her
thoughts.  She felt no concern for the death of young
Conrad, except commiseration; and she was not sorry to be
delivered from a marriage which had promised her little felicity,
either from her destined bridegroom, or from the severe temper of
Manfred, who, though he had distinguished her by great
indulgence, had imprinted her mind with terror, from his
causeless rigour to such amiable princesses as Hippolita and
Matilda.


While the ladies were conveying the wretched mother to her
bed, Manfred remained in the court, gazing on the ominous casque,
and regardless of the crowd which the strangeness of the event
had now assembled around him.  The few words he articulated,
tended solely to inquiries, whether any man knew from whence it
could have come?  Nobody could give him the least
information.  However, as it seemed to be the sole object of
his curiosity, it soon became so to the rest of the spectators,
whose conjectures were as absurd and improbable, as the
catastrophe itself was unprecedented.  In the midst of their
senseless guesses, a young peasant, whom rumour had drawn thither
from a neighbouring village, observed that the miraculous helmet
was exactly like that on the figure in black marble of Alfonso
the Good, one of their former princes, in the church of St.
Nicholas.


“Villain!  What sayest thou?” cried Manfred,
starting from his trance in a tempest of rage, and seizing the
young man by the collar; “how darest thou utter such
treason?  Thy life shall pay for it.”


The spectators, who as little comprehended the cause of the
Prince’s fury as all the rest they had seen, were at a loss
to unravel this new circumstance.  The young peasant himself
was still more astonished, not conceiving how he had offended the
Prince.  Yet recollecting himself, with a mixture of grace
and humility, he disengaged himself from Manfred’s grip,
and then with an obeisance, which discovered more jealousy of
innocence than dismay, he asked, with respect, of what he was
guilty?  Manfred, more enraged at the vigour, however
decently exerted, with which the young man had shaken off his
hold, than appeased by his submission, ordered his attendants to
seize him, and, if he had not been withheld by his friends whom
he had invited to the nuptials, would have poignarded the peasant
in their arms.


During this altercation, some of the vulgar spectators had run
to the great church, which stood near the castle, and came back
open-mouthed, declaring that the helmet was missing from
Alfonso’s statue.  Manfred, at this news, grew
perfectly frantic; and, as if he sought a subject on which to
vent the tempest within him, he rushed again on the young
peasant, crying—


“Villain! Monster! Sorcerer! ’tis thou hast done
this! ’tis thou hast slain my son!”


The mob, who wanted some object within the scope of their
capacities, on whom they might discharge their bewildered
reasoning, caught the words from the mouth of their lord, and
re-echoed—


“Ay, ay; ’tis he, ’tis he: he has stolen the
helmet from good Alfonso’s tomb, and dashed out the brains
of our young Prince with it,” never reflecting how enormous
the disproportion was between the marble helmet that had been in
the church, and that of steel before their eyes; nor how
impossible it was for a youth seemingly not twenty, to wield a
piece of armour of so prodigious a weight.


The folly of these ejaculations brought Manfred to himself:
yet whether provoked at the peasant having observed the
resemblance between the two helmets, and thereby led to the
farther discovery of the absence of that in the church, or
wishing to bury any such rumour under so impertinent a
supposition, he gravely pronounced that the young man was
certainly a necromancer, and that till the Church could take
cognisance of the affair, he would have the Magician, whom they
had thus detected, kept prisoner under the helmet itself, which
he ordered his attendants to raise, and place the young man under
it; declaring he should be kept there without food, with which
his own infernal art might furnish him.


It was in vain for the youth to represent against this
preposterous sentence: in vain did Manfred’s friends
endeavour to divert him from this savage and ill-grounded
resolution.  The generality were charmed with their
lord’s decision, which, to their apprehensions, carried
great appearance of justice, as the Magician was to be punished
by the very instrument with which he had offended: nor were they
struck with the least compunction at the probability of the youth
being starved, for they firmly believed that, by his diabolic
skill, he could easily supply himself with nutriment.


Manfred thus saw his commands even cheerfully obeyed; and
appointing a guard with strict orders to prevent any food being
conveyed to the prisoner, he dismissed his friends and
attendants, and retired to his own chamber, after locking the
gates of the castle, in which he suffered none but his domestics
to remain.


In the meantime, the care and zeal of the young Ladies had
brought the Princess Hippolita to herself, who amidst the
transports of her own sorrow frequently demanded news of her
lord, would have dismissed her attendants to watch over him, and
at last enjoined Matilda to leave her, and visit and comfort her
father.  Matilda, who wanted no affectionate duty to
Manfred, though she trembled at his austerity, obeyed the orders
of Hippolita, whom she tenderly recommended to Isabella; and
inquiring of the domestics for her father, was informed that he
was retired to his chamber, and had commanded that nobody should
have admittance to him.  Concluding that he was immersed in
sorrow for the death of her brother, and fearing to renew his
tears by the sight of his sole remaining child, she hesitated
whether she should break in upon his affliction; yet solicitude
for him, backed by the commands of her mother, encouraged her to
venture disobeying the orders he had given; a fault she had never
been guilty of before.


The gentle timidity of her nature made her pause for some
minutes at his door.  She heard him traverse his chamber
backwards, and forwards with disordered steps; a mood which
increased her apprehensions.  She was, however, just going
to beg admittance, when Manfred suddenly opened the door; and as
it was now twilight, concurring with the disorder of his mind, he
did not distinguish the person, but asked angrily, who it
was?  Matilda replied, trembling—


“My dearest father, it is I, your daughter.”


Manfred, stepping back hastily, cried, “Begone!  I
do not want a daughter;” and flinging back abruptly,
clapped the door against the terrified Matilda.


She was too well acquainted with her father’s
impetuosity to venture a second intrusion.  When she had a
little recovered the shock of so bitter a reception, she wiped
away her tears to prevent the additional stab that the knowledge
of it would give to Hippolita, who questioned her in the most
anxious terms on the health of Manfred, and how he bore his
loss.  Matilda assured her he was well, and supported his
misfortune with manly fortitude.


“But will he not let me see him?” said Hippolita
mournfully; “will he not permit me to blend my tears with
his, and shed a mother’s sorrows in the bosom of her
Lord?  Or do you deceive me, Matilda?  I know how
Manfred doted on his son: is not the stroke too heavy for him?
has he not sunk under it?  You do not answer me—alas!
I dread the worst!—Raise me, my maidens; I will, I will see
my Lord.  Bear me to him instantly: he is dearer to me even
than my children.”


Matilda made signs to Isabella to prevent Hippolita’s
rising; and both those lovely young women were using their gentle
violence to stop and calm the Princess, when a servant, on the
part of Manfred, arrived and told Isabella that his Lord demanded
to speak with her.


“With me!” cried Isabella.


“Go,” said Hippolita, relieved by a message from
her Lord: “Manfred cannot support the sight of his own
family.  He thinks you less disordered than we are, and
dreads the shock of my grief.  Console him, dear Isabella,
and tell him I will smother my own anguish rather than add to
his.”


As it was now evening the servant who conducted Isabella bore
a torch before her.  When they came to Manfred, who was
walking impatiently about the gallery, he started, and said
hastily—


“Take away that light, and begone.”


Then shutting the door impetuously, he flung himself upon a
bench against the wall, and bade Isabella sit by him.  She
obeyed trembling.


“I sent for you, Lady,” said he—and then
stopped under great appearance of confusion.


“My Lord!”


“Yes, I sent for you on a matter of great moment,”
resumed he.  “Dry your tears, young Lady—you
have lost your bridegroom.  Yes, cruel fate! and I have lost
the hopes of my race!  But Conrad was not worthy of your
beauty.”


“How, my Lord!” said Isabella; “sure you do
not suspect me of not feeling the concern I ought: my duty and
affection would have always—”


“Think no more of him,” interrupted Manfred;
“he was a sickly, puny child, and Heaven has perhaps taken
him away, that I might not trust the honours of my house on so
frail a foundation.  The line of Manfred calls for numerous
supports.  My foolish fondness for that boy blinded the eyes
of my prudence—but it is better as it is.  I hope, in
a few years, to have reason to rejoice at the death of
Conrad.”


Words cannot paint the astonishment of Isabella.  At
first she apprehended that grief had disordered Manfred’s
understanding.  Her next thought suggested that this strange
discourse was designed to ensnare her: she feared that Manfred
had perceived her indifference for his son: and in consequence of
that idea she replied—


“Good my Lord, do not doubt my tenderness: my heart
would have accompanied my hand.  Conrad would have engrossed
all my care; and wherever fate shall dispose of me, I shall
always cherish his memory, and regard your Highness and the
virtuous Hippolita as my parents.”


“Curse on Hippolita!” cried Manfred. 
“Forget her from this moment, as I do.  In short,
Lady, you have missed a husband undeserving of your charms: they
shall now be better disposed of.  Instead of a sickly boy,
you shall have a husband in the prime of his age, who will know
how to value your beauties, and who may expect a numerous
offspring.”


“Alas, my Lord!” said Isabella, “my mind is
too sadly engrossed by the recent catastrophe in your family to
think of another marriage.  If ever my father returns, and
it shall be his pleasure, I shall obey, as I did when I consented
to give my hand to your son: but until his return, permit me to
remain under your hospitable roof, and employ the melancholy
hours in assuaging yours, Hippolita’s, and the fair
Matilda’s affliction.”


“I desired you once before,” said Manfred angrily,
“not to name that woman: from this hour she must be a
stranger to you, as she must be to me.  In short, Isabella,
since I cannot give you my son, I offer you myself.”


“Heavens!” cried Isabella, waking from her
delusion, “what do I hear?  You! my Lord! 
You!  My father-in-law! the father of Conrad! the husband of
the virtuous and tender Hippolita!”


“I tell you,” said Manfred imperiously,
“Hippolita is no longer my wife; I divorce her from this
hour.  Too long has she cursed me by her
unfruitfulness.  My fate depends on having sons, and this
night I trust will give a new date to my hopes.”


At those words he seized the cold hand of Isabella, who was
half dead with fright and horror.  She shrieked, and started
from him, Manfred rose to pursue her, when the moon, which was
now up, and gleamed in at the opposite casement, presented to his
sight the plumes of the fatal helmet, which rose to the height of
the windows, waving backwards and forwards in a tempestuous
manner, and accompanied with a hollow and rustling sound. 
Isabella, who gathered courage from her situation, and who
dreaded nothing so much as Manfred’s pursuit of his
declaration, cried—


“Look, my Lord! see, Heaven itself declares against your
impious intentions!”


“Heaven nor Hell shall impede my designs,” said
Manfred, advancing again to seize the Princess.


At that instant the portrait of his grandfather, which hung
over the bench where they had been sitting, uttered a deep sigh,
and heaved its breast.


Isabella, whose back was turned to the picture, saw not the
motion, nor knew whence the sound came, but started, and
said—


“Hark, my Lord!  What sound was that?” and at
the same time made towards the door.


Manfred, distracted between the flight of Isabella, who had
now reached the stairs, and yet unable to keep his eyes from the
picture, which began to move, had, however, advanced some steps
after her, still looking backwards on the portrait, when he saw
it quit its panel, and descend on the floor with a grave and
melancholy air.


“Do I dream?” cried Manfred, returning; “or
are the devils themselves in league against me?  Speak,
internal spectre!  Or, if thou art my grandsire, why dost
thou too conspire against thy wretched descendant, who too dearly
pays for—”  Ere he could finish the sentence,
the vision sighed again, and made a sign to Manfred to follow
him.


“Lead on!” cried Manfred; “I will follow
thee to the gulf of perdition.”


The spectre marched sedately, but dejected, to the end of the
gallery, and turned into a chamber on the right hand. 
Manfred accompanied him at a little distance, full of anxiety and
horror, but resolved.  As he would have entered the chamber,
the door was clapped to with violence by an invisible hand. 
The Prince, collecting courage from this delay, would have
forcibly burst open the door with his foot, but found that it
resisted his utmost efforts.


“Since Hell will not satisfy my curiosity,” said
Manfred, “I will use the human means in my power for
preserving my race; Isabella shall not escape me.”


The lady, whose resolution had given way to terror the moment
she had quitted Manfred, continued her flight to the bottom of
the principal staircase.  There she stopped, not knowing
whither to direct her steps, nor how to escape from the
impetuosity of the Prince.  The gates of the castle, she
knew, were locked, and guards placed in the court.  Should
she, as her heart prompted her, go and prepare Hippolita for the
cruel destiny that awaited her, she did not doubt but Manfred
would seek her there, and that his violence would incite him to
double the injury he meditated, without leaving room for them to
avoid the impetuosity of his passions.  Delay might give him
time to reflect on the horrid measures he had conceived, or
produce some circumstance in her favour, if she could—for
that night, at least—avoid his odious purpose.  Yet
where conceal herself?  How avoid the pursuit he would
infallibly make throughout the castle?


As these thoughts passed rapidly through her mind, she
recollected a subterraneous passage which led from the vaults of
the castle to the church of St. Nicholas.  Could she reach
the altar before she was overtaken, she knew even Manfred’s
violence would not dare to profane the sacredness of the place;
and she determined, if no other means of deliverance offered, to
shut herself up for ever among the holy virgins whose convent was
contiguous to the cathedral.  In this resolution, she seized
a lamp that burned at the foot of the staircase, and hurried
towards the secret passage.


The lower part of the castle was hollowed into several
intricate cloisters; and it was not easy for one under so much
anxiety to find the door that opened into the cavern.  An
awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions,
except now and then some blasts of wind that shook the doors she
had passed, and which, grating on the rusty hinges, were
re-echoed through that long labyrinth of darkness.  Every
murmur struck her with new terror; yet more she dreaded to hear
the wrathful voice of Manfred urging his domestics to pursue
her.


She trod as softly as impatience would give her leave, yet
frequently stopped and listened to hear if she was
followed.  In one of those moments she thought she heard a
sigh.  She shuddered, and recoiled a few paces.  In a
moment she thought she heard the step of some person.  Her
blood curdled; she concluded it was Manfred.  Every
suggestion that horror could inspire rushed into her mind. 
She condemned her rash flight, which had thus exposed her to his
rage in a place where her cries were not likely to draw anybody
to her assistance.  Yet the sound seemed not to come from
behind.  If Manfred knew where she was, he must have
followed her.  She was still in one of the cloisters, and
the steps she had heard were too distinct to proceed from the way
she had come.  Cheered with this reflection, and hoping to
find a friend in whoever was not the Prince, she was going to
advance, when a door that stood ajar, at some distance to the
left, was opened gently: but ere her lamp, which she held up,
could discover who opened it, the person retreated precipitately
on seeing the light.


Isabella, whom every incident was sufficient to dismay,
hesitated whether she should proceed.  Her dread of Manfred
soon outweighed every other terror.  The very circumstance
of the person avoiding her gave her a sort of courage.  It
could only be, she thought, some domestic belonging to the
castle.  Her gentleness had never raised her an enemy, and
conscious innocence made her hope that, unless sent by the
Prince’s order to seek her, his servants would rather
assist than prevent her flight.  Fortifying herself with
these reflections, and believing by what she could observe that
she was near the mouth of the subterraneous cavern, she
approached the door that had been opened; but a sudden gust of
wind that met her at the door extinguished her lamp, and left her
in total darkness.


Words cannot paint the horror of the Princess’s
situation.  Alone in so dismal a place, her mind imprinted
with all the terrible events of the day, hopeless of escaping,
expecting every moment the arrival of Manfred, and far from
tranquil on knowing she was within reach of somebody, she knew
not whom, who for some cause seemed concealed thereabouts; all
these thoughts crowded on her distracted mind, and she was ready
to sink under her apprehensions.  She addressed herself to
every saint in heaven, and inwardly implored their
assistance.  For a considerable time she remained in an
agony of despair.


At last, as softly as was possible, she felt for the door, and
having found it, entered trembling into the vault from whence she
had heard the sigh and steps.  It gave her a kind of
momentary joy to perceive an imperfect ray of clouded moonshine
gleam from the roof of the vault, which seemed to be fallen in,
and from whence hung a fragment of earth or building, she could
not distinguish which, that appeared to have been crushed
inwards.  She advanced eagerly towards this chasm, when she
discerned a human form standing close against the wall.


She shrieked, believing it the ghost of her betrothed
Conrad.  The figure, advancing, said, in a submissive
voice—


“Be not alarmed, Lady; I will not injure you.”


Isabella, a little encouraged by the words and tone of voice
of the stranger, and recollecting that this must be the person
who had opened the door, recovered her spirits enough to
reply—


“Sir, whoever you are, take pity on a wretched Princess,
standing on the brink of destruction.  Assist me to escape
from this fatal castle, or in a few moments I may be made
miserable for ever.”


“Alas!” said the stranger, “what can I do to
assist you?  I will die in your defence; but I am
unacquainted with the castle, and want—”


“Oh!” said Isabella, hastily interrupting him;
“help me but to find a trap-door that must be hereabout,
and it is the greatest service you can do me, for I have not a
minute to lose.”


Saying a these words, she felt about on the pavement, and
directed the stranger to search likewise, for a smooth piece of
brass enclosed in one of the stones.


“That,” said she, “is the lock, which opens
with a spring, of which I know the secret.  If we can find
that, I may escape—if not, alas! courteous stranger, I fear
I shall have involved you in my misfortunes: Manfred will suspect
you for the accomplice of my flight, and you will fall a victim
to his resentment.”


“I value not my life,” said the stranger,
“and it will be some comfort to lose it in trying to
deliver you from his tyranny.”


“Generous youth,” said Isabella, “how shall
I ever requite—”


As she uttered those words, a ray of moonshine, streaming
through a cranny of the ruin above, shone directly on the lock
they sought.


“Oh! transport!” said Isabella; “here is the
trap-door!” and, taking out the key, she touched the
spring, which, starting aside, discovered an iron ring. 
“Lift up the door,” said the Princess.


The stranger obeyed, and beneath appeared some stone steps
descending into a vault totally dark.


“We must go down here,” said Isabella. 
“Follow me; dark and dismal as it is, we cannot miss our
way; it leads directly to the church of St. Nicholas.  But,
perhaps,” added the Princess modestly, “you have no
reason to leave the castle, nor have I farther occasion for your
service; in a few minutes I shall be safe from Manfred’s
rage—only let me know to whom I am so much
obliged.”


“I will never quit you,” said the stranger
eagerly, “until I have placed you in safety—nor think
me, Princess, more generous than I am; though you are my
principal care—”


The stranger was interrupted by a sudden noise of voices that
seemed approaching, and they soon distinguished these
words—


“Talk not to me of necromancers; I tell you she must be
in the castle; I will find her in spite of
enchantment.”


“Oh, heavens!” cried Isabella; “it is the
voice of Manfred!  Make haste, or we are ruined! and shut
the trap-door after you.”


Saying this, she descended the steps precipitately; and as the
stranger hastened to follow her, he let the door slip out of his
hands: it fell, and the spring closed over it.  He tried in
vain to open it, not having observed Isabella’s method of
touching the spring; nor had he many moments to make an
essay.  The noise of the falling door had been heard by
Manfred, who, directed by the sound, hastened thither, attended
by his servants with torches.


“It must be Isabella,” cried Manfred, before he
entered the vault.  “She is escaping by the
subterraneous passage, but she cannot have got far.”


What was the astonishment of the Prince when, instead of
Isabella, the light of the torches discovered to him the young
peasant whom he thought confined under the fatal helmet!


“Traitor!” said Manfred; “how camest thou
here?  I thought thee in durance above in the
court.”


“I am no traitor,” replied the young man boldly,
“nor am I answerable for your thoughts.”


“Presumptuous villain!” cried Manfred; “dost
thou provoke my wrath?  Tell me, how hast thou escaped from
above?  Thou hast corrupted thy guards, and their lives
shall answer it.”


“My poverty,” said the peasant calmly, “will
disculpate them: though the ministers of a tyrant’s wrath,
to thee they are faithful, and but too willing to execute the
orders which you unjustly imposed upon them.”


“Art thou so hardy as to dare my vengeance?” said
the Prince; “but tortures shall force the truth from
thee.  Tell me; I will know thy accomplices.”


“There was my accomplice!” said the youth,
smiling, and pointing to the roof.


Manfred ordered the torches to be held up, and perceived that
one of the cheeks of the enchanted casque had forced its way
through the pavement of the court, as his servants had let it
fall over the peasant, and had broken through into the vault,
leaving a gap, through which the peasant had pressed himself some
minutes before he was found by Isabella.


“Was that the way by which thou didst descend?”
said Manfred.


“It was,” said the youth.


“But what noise was that,” said Manfred,
“which I heard as I entered the cloister?”


“A door clapped,” said the peasant; “I heard
it as well as you.”


“What door?” said Manfred hastily.


“I am not acquainted with your castle,” said the
peasant; “this is the first time I ever entered it, and
this vault the only part of it within which I ever
was.”


“But I tell thee,” said Manfred (wishing to find
out if the youth had discovered the trap-door), “it was
this way I heard the noise.  My servants heard it
too.”


“My Lord,” interrupted one of them officiously,
“to be sure it was the trap-door, and he was going to make
his escape.”


“Peace, blockhead!” said the Prince angrily;
“if he was going to escape, how should he come on this
side?  I will know from his own mouth what noise it was I
heard.  Tell me truly; thy life depends on thy
veracity.”


“My veracity is dearer to me than my life,” said
the peasant; “nor would I purchase the one by forfeiting
the other.”


“Indeed, young philosopher!” said Manfred
contemptuously; “tell me, then, what was the noise I
heard?”


“Ask me what I can answer,” said he, “and
put me to death instantly if I tell you a lie.”


Manfred, growing impatient at the steady valour and
indifference of the youth, cried—


“Well, then, thou man of truth, answer!  Was it the
fall of the trap-door that I heard?”


“It was,” said the youth.


“It was!” said the Prince; “and how didst
thou come to know there was a trap-door here?”


“I saw the plate of brass by a gleam of
moonshine,” replied he.


“But what told thee it was a lock?” said
Manfred.  “How didst thou discover the secret of
opening it?”


“Providence, that delivered me from the helmet, was able
to direct me to the spring of a lock,” said he.


“Providence should have gone a little farther, and have
placed thee out of the reach of my resentment,” said
Manfred.  “When Providence had taught thee to open the
lock, it abandoned thee for a fool, who did not know how to make
use of its favours.  Why didst thou not pursue the path
pointed out for thy escape?  Why didst thou shut the
trap-door before thou hadst descended the steps?”


“I might ask you, my Lord,” said the peasant,
“how I, totally unacquainted with your castle, was to know
that those steps led to any outlet? but I scorn to evade your
questions.  Wherever those steps lead to, perhaps I should
have explored the way—I could not be in a worse situation
than I was.  But the truth is, I let the trap-door fall:
your immediate arrival followed.  I had given the
alarm—what imported it to me whether I was seized a minute
sooner or a minute later?”


“Thou art a resolute villain for thy years,” said
Manfred; “yet on reflection I suspect thou dost but trifle
with me.  Thou hast not yet told me how thou didst open the
lock.”


“That I will show you, my Lord,” said the peasant;
and, taking up a fragment of stone that had fallen from above, he
laid himself on the trap-door, and began to beat on the piece of
brass that covered it, meaning to gain time for the escape of the
Princess.  This presence of mind, joined to the frankness of
the youth, staggered Manfred.  He even felt a disposition
towards pardoning one who had been guilty of no crime. 
Manfred was not one of those savage tyrants who wanton in cruelty
unprovoked.  The circumstances of his fortune had given an
asperity to his temper, which was naturally humane; and his
virtues were always ready to operate, when his passions did not
obscure his reason.


While the Prince was in this suspense, a confused noise of
voices echoed through the distant vaults.  As the sound
approached, he distinguished the clamours of some of his
domestics, whom he had dispersed through the castle in search of
Isabella, calling out—


“Where is my Lord? where is the Prince?”


“Here I am,” said Manfred, as they came nearer;
“have you found the Princess?”


The first that arrived, replied, “Oh, my Lord!  I
am glad we have found you.”


“Found me!” said Manfred; “have you found
the Princess?”


“We thought we had, my Lord,” said the fellow,
looking terrified, “but—”


“But, what?” cried the Prince; “has she
escaped?”


“Jaquez and I, my Lord—”


“Yes, I and Diego,” interrupted the second, who
came up in still greater consternation.


“Speak one of you at a time,” said Manfred;
“I ask you, where is the Princess?”


“We do not know,” said they both together;
“but we are frightened out of our wits.”


“So I think, blockheads,” said Manfred;
“what is it has scared you thus?”


“Oh! my Lord,” said Jaquez, “Diego has seen
such a sight! your Highness would not believe our
eyes.”


“What new absurdity is this?” cried Manfred;
“give me a direct answer, or, by Heaven—”


“Why, my Lord, if it please your Highness to hear
me,” said the poor fellow, “Diego and
I—”


“Yes, I and Jaquez—” cried his comrade.


“Did not I forbid you to speak both at a time?”
said the Prince: “you, Jaquez, answer; for the other fool
seems more distracted than thou art; what is the
matter?”


“My gracious Lord,” said Jaquez, “if it
please your Highness to hear me; Diego and I, according to your
Highness’s orders, went to search for the young Lady; but
being comprehensive that we might meet the ghost of my young
Lord, your Highness’s son, God rest his soul, as he has not
received Christian burial—”


“Sot!” cried Manfred in a rage; “is it only
a ghost, then, that thou hast seen?”


“Oh! worse! worse! my Lord,” cried Diego: “I
had rather have seen ten whole ghosts.”


“Grant me patience!” said Manfred; “these
blockheads distract me.  Out of my sight, Diego! and thou,
Jaquez, tell me in one word, art thou sober? art thou raving?
thou wast wont to have some sense: has the other sot frightened
himself and thee too?  Speak; what is it he fancies he has
seen?”


“Why, my Lord,” replied Jaquez, trembling,
“I was going to tell your Highness, that since the
calamitous misfortune of my young Lord, God rest his precious
soul! not one of us your Highness’s faithful
servants—indeed we are, my Lord, though poor men—I
say, not one of us has dared to set a foot about the castle, but
two together: so Diego and I, thinking that my young Lady might
be in the great gallery, went up there to look for her, and tell
her your Highness wanted something to impart to her.”


“O blundering fools!” cried Manfred; “and in
the meantime, she has made her escape, because you were afraid of
goblins!—Why, thou knave! she left me in the gallery; I
came from thence myself.”


“For all that, she may be there still for aught I
know,” said Jaquez; “but the devil shall have me
before I seek her there again—poor Diego!  I do not
believe he will ever recover it.”


“Recover what?” said Manfred; “am I never to
learn what it is has terrified these rascals?—but I lose my
time; follow me, slave; I will see if she is in the
gallery.”


“For Heaven’s sake, my dear, good Lord,”
cried Jaquez, “do not go to the gallery.  Satan
himself I believe is in the chamber next to the
gallery.”


Manfred, who hitherto had treated the terror of his servants
as an idle panic, was struck at this new circumstance.  He
recollected the apparition of the portrait, and the sudden
closing of the door at the end of the gallery.  His voice
faltered, and he asked with disorder—


“What is in the great chamber?”


“My Lord,” said Jaquez, “when Diego and I
came into the gallery, he went first, for he said he had more
courage than I.  So when we came into the gallery we found
nobody.  We looked under every bench and stool; and still we
found nobody.”


“Were all the pictures in their places?” said
Manfred.


“Yes, my Lord,” answered Jaquez; “but we did
not think of looking behind them.”


“Well, well!” said Manfred;
“proceed.”


“When we came to the door of the great chamber,”
continued Jaquez, “we found it shut.”


“And could not you open it?” said Manfred.


“Oh! yes, my Lord; would to Heaven we had not!”
replied he—“nay, it was not I neither; it was Diego:
he was grown foolhardy, and would go on, though I advised him
not—if ever I open a door that is shut
again—”


“Trifle not,” said Manfred, shuddering, “but
tell me what you saw in the great chamber on opening the
door.”


“I! my Lord!” said Jaquez; “I was behind
Diego; but I heard the noise.”


“Jaquez,” said Manfred, in a solemn tone of voice;
“tell me, I adjure thee by the souls of my ancestors, what
was it thou sawest? what was it thou heardest?”


“It was Diego saw it, my Lord, it was not I,”
replied Jaquez; “I only heard the noise.  Diego had no
sooner opened the door, than he cried out, and ran back.  I
ran back too, and said, ‘Is it the ghost?’ 
‘The ghost! no, no,’ said Diego, and his hair stood
on end—‘it is a giant, I believe; he is all clad in
armour, for I saw his foot and part of his leg, and they are as
large as the helmet below in the court.’  As he said
these words, my Lord, we heard a violent motion and the rattling
of armour, as if the giant was rising, for Diego has told me
since that he believes the giant was lying down, for the foot and
leg were stretched at length on the floor.  Before we could
get to the end of the gallery, we heard the door of the great
chamber clap behind us, but we did not dare turn back to see if
the giant was following us—yet, now I think on it, we must
have heard him if he had pursued us—but for Heaven’s
sake, good my Lord, send for the chaplain, and have the castle
exorcised, for, for certain, it is enchanted.”


“Ay, pray do, my Lord,” cried all the servants at
once, “or we must leave your Highness’s
service.”


“Peace, dotards!” said Manfred, “and follow
me; I will know what all this means.”


“We! my Lord!” cried they with one voice;
“we would not go up to the gallery for your
Highness’s revenue.”  The young peasant, who had
stood silent, now spoke.


“Will your Highness,” said he, “permit me to
try this adventure?  My life is of consequence to nobody; I
fear no bad angel, and have offended no good one.”


“Your behaviour is above your seeming,” said
Manfred, viewing him with surprise and
admiration—“hereafter I will reward your
bravery—but now,” continued he with a sigh, “I
am so circumstanced, that I dare trust no eyes but my own. 
However, I give you leave to accompany me.”


Manfred, when he first followed Isabella from the gallery, had
gone directly to the apartment of his wife, concluding the
Princess had retired thither.  Hippolita, who knew his step,
rose with anxious fondness to meet her Lord, whom she had not
seen since the death of their son.  She would have flown in
a transport mixed of joy and grief to his bosom, but he pushed
her rudely off, and said—


“Where is Isabella?”


“Isabella! my Lord!” said the astonished
Hippolita.


“Yes, Isabella,” cried Manfred imperiously;
“I want Isabella.”


“My Lord,” replied Matilda, who perceived how much
his behaviour had shocked her mother, “she has not been
with us since your Highness summoned her to your
apartment.”


“Tell me where she is,” said the Prince; “I
do not want to know where she has been.”


“My good Lord,” says Hippolita, “your
daughter tells you the truth: Isabella left us by your command,
and has not returned since;—but, my good Lord, compose
yourself: retire to your rest: this dismal day has disordered
you.  Isabella shall wait your orders in the
morning.”


“What, then, you know where she is!” cried
Manfred.  “Tell me directly, for I will not lose an
instant—and you, woman,” speaking to his wife,
“order your chaplain to attend me forthwith.”


“Isabella,” said Hippolita calmly, “is
retired, I suppose, to her chamber: she is not accustomed to
watch at this late hour.  Gracious my Lord,” continued
she, “let me know what has disturbed you.  Has
Isabella offended you?”


“Trouble me not with questions,” said Manfred,
“but tell me where she is.”


“Matilda shall call her,” said the Princess. 
“Sit down, my Lord, and resume your wonted
fortitude.”


“What, art thou jealous of Isabella?” replied he,
“that you wish to be present at our interview!”


“Good heavens! my Lord,” said Hippolita,
“what is it your Highness means?”


“Thou wilt know ere many minutes are passed,” said
the cruel Prince.  “Send your chaplain to me, and wait
my pleasure here.”


At these words he flung out of the room in search of Isabella,
leaving the amazed ladies thunderstruck with his words and
frantic deportment, and lost in vain conjectures on what he was
meditating.


Manfred was now returning from the vault, attended by the
peasant and a few of his servants whom he had obliged to
accompany him.  He ascended the staircase without stopping
till he arrived at the gallery, at the door of which he met
Hippolita and her chaplain.  When Diego had been dismissed
by Manfred, he had gone directly to the Princess’s
apartment with the alarm of what he had seen.  That
excellent Lady, who no more than Manfred doubted of the reality
of the vision, yet affected to treat it as a delirium of the
servant.  Willing, however, to save her Lord from any
additional shock, and prepared by a series of griefs not to
tremble at any accession to it, she determined to make herself
the first sacrifice, if fate had marked the present hour for
their destruction.  Dismissing the reluctant Matilda to her
rest, who in vain sued for leave to accompany her mother, and
attended only by her chaplain, Hippolita had visited the gallery
and great chamber; and now with more serenity of soul than she
had felt for many hours, she met her Lord, and assured him that
the vision of the gigantic leg and foot was all a fable; and no
doubt an impression made by fear, and the dark and dismal hour of
the night, on the minds of his servants.  She and the
chaplain had examined the chamber, and found everything in the
usual order.


Manfred, though persuaded, like his wife, that the vision had
been no work of fancy, recovered a little from the tempest of
mind into which so many strange events had thrown him. 
Ashamed, too, of his inhuman treatment of a Princess who returned
every injury with new marks of tenderness and duty, he felt
returning love forcing itself into his eyes; but not less ashamed
of feeling remorse towards one against whom he was inwardly
meditating a yet more bitter outrage, he curbed the yearnings of
his heart, and did not dare to lean even towards pity.  The
next transition of his soul was to exquisite villainy.


Presuming on the unshaken submission of Hippolita, he
flattered himself that she would not only acquiesce with patience
to a divorce, but would obey, if it was his pleasure, in
endeavouring to persuade Isabella to give him her hand—but
ere he could indulge his horrid hope, he reflected that Isabella
was not to be found.  Coming to himself, he gave orders that
every avenue to the castle should be strictly guarded, and
charged his domestics on pain of their lives to suffer nobody to
pass out.  The young peasant, to whom he spoke favourably,
he ordered to remain in a small chamber on the stairs, in which
there was a pallet-bed, and the key of which he took away
himself, telling the youth he would talk with him in the
morning.  Then dismissing his attendants, and bestowing a
sullen kind of half-nod on Hippolita, he retired to his own
chamber.


CHAPTER II.


Matilda, who by Hippolita’s order had retired to her
apartment, was ill-disposed to take any rest.  The shocking
fate of her brother had deeply affected her.  She was
surprised at not seeing Isabella; but the strange words which had
fallen from her father, and his obscure menace to the Princess
his wife, accompanied by the most furious behaviour, had filled
her gentle mind with terror and alarm.  She waited anxiously
for the return of Bianca, a young damsel that attended her, whom
she had sent to learn what was become of Isabella.  Bianca
soon appeared, and informed her mistress of what she had gathered
from the servants, that Isabella was nowhere to be found. 
She related the adventure of the young peasant who had been
discovered in the vault, though with many simple additions from
the incoherent accounts of the domestics; and she dwelt
principally on the gigantic leg and foot which had been seen in
the gallery-chamber.  This last circumstance had terrified
Bianca so much, that she was rejoiced when Matilda told her that
she would not go to rest, but would watch till the Princess
should rise.


The young Princess wearied herself in conjectures on the
flight of Isabella, and on the threats of Manfred to her
mother.  “But what business could he have so urgent
with the chaplain?” said Matilda, “Does he intend to
have my brother’s body interred privately in the
chapel?”


“Oh, Madam!” said Bianca, “now I
guess.  As you are become his heiress, he is impatient to
have you married: he has always been raving for more sons; I
warrant he is now impatient for grandsons.  As sure as I
live, Madam, I shall see you a bride at last.—Good madam,
you won’t cast off your faithful Bianca: you won’t
put Donna Rosara over me now you are a great Princess.”


“My poor Bianca,” said Matilda, “how fast
your thoughts amble!  I a great princess!  What hast
thou seen in Manfred’s behaviour since my brother’s
death that bespeaks any increase of tenderness to me?  No,
Bianca; his heart was ever a stranger to me—but he is my
father, and I must not complain.  Nay, if Heaven shuts my
father’s heart against me, it overpays my little merit in
the tenderness of my mother—O that dear mother! yes,
Bianca, ’tis there I feel the rugged temper of
Manfred.  I can support his harshness to me with patience;
but it wounds my soul when I am witness to his causeless severity
towards her.”


“Oh! Madam,” said Bianca, “all men use their
wives so, when they are weary of them.”


“And yet you congratulated me but now,” said
Matilda, “when you fancied my father intended to dispose of
me!”


“I would have you a great Lady,” replied Bianca,
“come what will.  I do not wish to see you moped in a
convent, as you would be if you had your will, and if my Lady,
your mother, who knows that a bad husband is better than no
husband at all, did not hinder you.—Bless me! what noise is
that!  St. Nicholas forgive me!  I was but in
jest.”


“It is the wind,” said Matilda, “whistling
through the battlements in the tower above: you have heard it a
thousand times.”


“Nay,” said Bianca, “there was no harm
neither in what I said: it is no sin to talk of
matrimony—and so, Madam, as I was saying, if my Lord
Manfred should offer you a handsome young Prince for a
bridegroom, you would drop him a curtsey, and tell him you would
rather take the veil?”


“Thank Heaven!  I am in no such danger,” said
Matilda: “you know how many proposals for me he has
rejected—”


“And you thank him, like a dutiful daughter, do you,
Madam?  But come, Madam; suppose, to-morrow morning, he was
to send for you to the great council chamber, and there you
should find at his elbow a lovely young Prince, with large black
eyes, a smooth white forehead, and manly curling locks like jet;
in short, Madam, a young hero resembling the picture of the good
Alfonso in the gallery, which you sit and gaze at for hours
together—”


“Do not speak lightly of that picture,”
interrupted Matilda sighing; “I know the adoration with
which I look at that picture is uncommon—but I am not in
love with a coloured panel.  The character of that virtuous
Prince, the veneration with which my mother has inspired me for
his memory, the orisons which, I know not why, she has enjoined
me to pour forth at his tomb, all have concurred to persuade me
that somehow or other my destiny is linked with something
relating to him.”


“Lord, Madam! how should that be?” said Bianca;
“I have always heard that your family was in no way related
to his: and I am sure I cannot conceive why my Lady, the
Princess, sends you in a cold morning or a damp evening to pray
at his tomb: he is no saint by the almanack.  If you must
pray, why does she not bid you address yourself to our great St.
Nicholas?  I am sure he is the saint I pray to for a
husband.”


“Perhaps my mind would be less affected,” said
Matilda, “if my mother would explain her reasons to me: but
it is the mystery she observes, that inspires me with
this—I know not what to call it.  As she never acts
from caprice, I am sure there is some fatal secret at
bottom—nay, I know there is: in her agony of grief for my
brother’s death she dropped some words that intimated as
much.”


“Oh! dear Madam,” cried Bianca, “what were
they?”


“No,” said Matilda, “if a parent lets fall a
word, and wishes it recalled, it is not for a child to utter
it.”


“What! was she sorry for what she had said?” asked
Bianca; “I am sure, Madam, you may trust
me—”


“With my own little secrets when I have any, I
may,” said Matilda; “but never with my
mother’s: a child ought to have no ears or eyes but as a
parent directs.”


“Well! to be sure, Madam, you were born to be a
saint,” said Bianca, “and there is no resisting
one’s vocation: you will end in a convent at last. 
But there is my Lady Isabella would not be so reserved to me: she
will let me talk to her of young men: and when a handsome
cavalier has come to the castle, she has owned to me that she
wished your brother Conrad resembled him.”


“Bianca,” said the Princess, “I do not allow
you to mention my friend disrespectfully.  Isabella is of a
cheerful disposition, but her soul is pure as virtue
itself.  She knows your idle babbling humour, and perhaps
has now and then encouraged it, to divert melancholy, and enliven
the solitude in which my father keeps us—”


“Blessed Mary!” said Bianca, starting,
“there it is again!  Dear Madam, do you hear nothing?
this castle is certainly haunted!”


“Peace!” said Matilda, “and listen!  I
did think I heard a voice—but it must be fancy: your
terrors, I suppose, have infected me.”


“Indeed! indeed!  Madam,” said Bianca,
half-weeping with agony, “I am sure I heard a
voice.”


“Does anybody lie in the chamber beneath?” said
the Princess.


“Nobody has dared to lie there,” answered Bianca,
“since the great astrologer, that was your brother’s
tutor, drowned himself.  For certain, Madam, his ghost and
the young Prince’s are now met in the chamber
below—for Heaven’s sake let us fly to your
mother’s apartment!”


“I charge you not to stir,” said Matilda. 
“If they are spirits in pain, we may ease their sufferings
by questioning them.  They can mean no hurt to us, for we
have not injured them—and if they should, shall we be more
safe in one chamber than in another?  Reach me my beads; we
will say a prayer, and then speak to them.”


“Oh! dear Lady, I would not speak to a ghost for the
world!” cried Bianca.  As she said those words they
heard the casement of the little chamber below Matilda’s
open.  They listened attentively, and in a few minutes
thought they heard a person sing, but could not distinguish the
words.


“This can be no evil spirit,” said the Princess,
in a low voice; “it is undoubtedly one of the
family—open the window, and we shall know the
voice.”


“I dare not, indeed, Madam,” said Bianca.


“Thou art a very fool,” said Matilda, opening the
window gently herself.  The noise the Princess made was,
however, heard by the person beneath, who stopped; and they
concluded had heard the casement open.


“Is anybody below?” said the Princess; “if
there is, speak.”


“Yes,” said an unknown voice.


“Who is it?” said Matilda.


“A stranger,” replied the voice.


“What stranger?” said she; “and how didst
thou come there at this unusual hour, when all the gates of the
castle are locked?”


“I am not here willingly,” answered the
voice.  “But pardon me, Lady, if I have disturbed your
rest; I knew not that I was overheard.  Sleep had forsaken
me; I left a restless couch, and came to waste the irksome hours
with gazing on the fair approach of morning, impatient to be
dismissed from this castle.”


“Thy words and accents,” said Matilda, “are
of melancholy cast; if thou art unhappy, I pity thee.  If
poverty afflicts thee, let me know it; I will mention thee to the
Princess, whose beneficent soul ever melts for the distressed,
and she will relieve thee.”


“I am indeed unhappy,” said the stranger;
“and I know not what wealth is.  But I do not complain
of the lot which Heaven has cast for me; I am young and healthy,
and am not ashamed of owing my support to myself—yet think
me not proud, or that I disdain your generous offers.  I
will remember you in my orisons, and will pray for blessings on
your gracious self and your noble mistress—if I sigh, Lady,
it is for others, not for myself.”


“Now I have it, Madam,” said Bianca, whispering
the Princess; “this is certainly the young peasant; and, by
my conscience, he is in love—Well! this is a charming
adventure!—do, Madam, let us sift him.  He does not
know you, but takes you for one of my Lady Hippolita’s
women.”


“Art thou not ashamed, Bianca!” said the
Princess.  “What right have we to pry into the secrets
of this young man’s heart?  He seems virtuous and
frank, and tells us he is unhappy.  Are those circumstances
that authorise us to make a property of him?  How are we
entitled to his confidence?”


“Lord, Madam! how little you know of love!”
replied Bianca; “why, lovers have no pleasure equal to
talking of their mistress.”


“And would you have me become a peasant’s
confidante?” said the Princess.


“Well, then, let me talk to him,” said Bianca;
“though I have the honour of being your Highness’s
maid of honour, I was not always so great.  Besides, if love
levels ranks, it raises them too; I have a respect for any young
man in love.”


“Peace, simpleton!” said the Princess. 
“Though he said he was unhappy, it does not follow that he
must be in love.  Think of all that has happened to-day, and
tell me if there are no misfortunes but what love
causes.—Stranger,” resumed the Princess, “if
thy misfortunes have not been occasioned by thy own fault, and
are within the compass of the Princess Hippolita’s power to
redress, I will take upon me to answer that she will be thy
protectress.  When thou art dismissed from this castle,
repair to holy father Jerome, at the convent adjoining to the
church of St. Nicholas, and make thy story known to him, as far
as thou thinkest meet.  He will not fail to inform the
Princess, who is the mother of all that want her
assistance.  Farewell; it is not seemly for me to hold
farther converse with a man at this unwonted hour.”


“May the saints guard thee, gracious Lady!”
replied the peasant; “but oh! if a poor and worthless
stranger might presume to beg a minute’s audience farther;
am I so happy? the casement is not shut; might I venture to
ask—”


“Speak quickly,” said Matilda; “the morning
dawns apace: should the labourers come into the fields and
perceive us—What wouldst thou ask?”


“I know not how, I know not if I dare,” said the
Young stranger, faltering; “yet the humanity with which you
have spoken to me emboldens—Lady! dare I trust
you?”


“Heavens!” said Matilda, “what dost thou
mean?  With what wouldst thou trust me?  Speak boldly,
if thy secret is fit to be entrusted to a virtuous
breast.”


“I would ask,” said the peasant, recollecting
himself, “whether what I have heard from the domestics is
true, that the Princess is missing from the castle?”


“What imports it to thee to know?” replied
Matilda.  “Thy first words bespoke a prudent and
becoming gravity.  Dost thou come hither to pry into the
secrets of Manfred?  Adieu.  I have been mistaken in
thee.”  Saying these words she shut the casement
hastily, without giving the young man time to reply.


“I had acted more wisely,” said the Princess to
Bianca, with some sharpness, “if I had let thee converse
with this peasant; his inquisitiveness seems of a piece with thy
own.”


“It is not fit for me to argue with your
Highness,” replied Bianca; “but perhaps the questions
I should have put to him would have been more to the purpose than
those you have been pleased to ask him.”


“Oh! no doubt,” said Matilda; “you are a
very discreet personage!  May I know what you would
have asked him?”


“A bystander often sees more of the game than those that
play,” answered Bianca.  “Does your Highness
think, Madam, that this question about my Lady Isabella was the
result of mere curiosity?  No, no, Madam, there is more in
it than you great folks are aware of.  Lopez told me that
all the servants believe this young fellow contrived my Lady
Isabella’s escape; now, pray, Madam, observe you and I both
know that my Lady Isabella never much fancied the Prince your
brother.  Well! he is killed just in a critical
minute—I accuse nobody.  A helmet falls from the
moon—so, my Lord, your father says; but Lopez and all the
servants say that this young spark is a magician, and stole it
from Alfonso’s tomb—”


“Have done with this rhapsody of impertinence,”
said Matilda.


“Nay, Madam, as you please,” cried Bianca;
“yet it is very particular though, that my Lady Isabella
should be missing the very same day, and that this young sorcerer
should be found at the mouth of the trap-door.  I accuse
nobody; but if my young Lord came honestly by his
death—”


“Dare not on thy duty,” said Matilda, “to
breathe a suspicion on the purity of my dear Isabella’s
fame.”


“Purity, or not purity,” said Bianca, “gone
she is—a stranger is found that nobody knows; you question
him yourself; he tells you he is in love, or unhappy, it is the
same thing—nay, he owned he was unhappy about others; and
is anybody unhappy about another, unless they are in love with
them? and at the very next word, he asks innocently, pour soul!
if my Lady Isabella is missing.”


“To be sure,” said Matilda, “thy
observations are not totally without
foundation—Isabella’s flight amazes me.  The
curiosity of the stranger is very particular; yet Isabella never
concealed a thought from me.”


“So she told you,” said Bianca, “to fish out
your secrets; but who knows, Madam, but this stranger may be some
Prince in disguise?  Do, Madam, let me open the window, and
ask him a few questions.”


“No,” replied Matilda, “I will ask him
myself, if he knows aught of Isabella; he is not worthy I should
converse farther with him.”  She was going to open the
casement, when they heard the bell ring at the postern-gate of
the castle, which is on the right hand of the tower, where
Matilda lay.  This prevented the Princess from renewing the
conversation with the stranger.


After continuing silent for some time, “I am
persuaded,” said she to Bianca, “that whatever be the
cause of Isabella’s flight it had no unworthy motive. 
If this stranger was accessory to it, she must be satisfied with
his fidelity and worth.  I observed, did not you, Bianca?
that his words were tinctured with an uncommon infusion of
piety.  It was no ruffian’s speech; his phrases were
becoming a man of gentle birth.”


“I told you, Madam,” said Bianca, “that I
was sure he was some Prince in disguise.”


“Yet,” said Matilda, “if he was privy to her
escape, how will you account for his not accompanying her in her
flight? why expose himself unnecessarily and rashly to my
father’s resentment?”


“As for that, Madam,” replied she, “if he
could get from under the helmet, he will find ways of eluding
your father’s anger.  I do not doubt but he has some
talisman or other about him.”


“You resolve everything into magic,” said Matilda;
“but a man who has any intercourse with infernal spirits,
does not dare to make use of those tremendous and holy words
which he uttered.  Didst thou not observe with what fervour
he vowed to remember me to heaven in his prayers? 
Yes; Isabella was undoubtedly convinced of his piety.”


“Commend me to the piety of a young fellow and a damsel
that consult to elope!” said Bianca.  “No, no,
Madam, my Lady Isabella is of another guess mould than you take
her for.  She used indeed to sigh and lift up her eyes in
your company, because she knows you are a saint; but when your
back was turned—”


“You wrong her,” said Matilda; “Isabella is
no hypocrite; she has a due sense of devotion, but never affected
a call she has not.  On the contrary, she always combated my
inclination for the cloister; and though I own the mystery she
has made to me of her flight confounds me; though it seems
inconsistent with the friendship between us; I cannot forget the
disinterested warmth with which she always opposed my taking the
veil.  She wished to see me married, though my dower would
have been a loss to her and my brother’s children. 
For her sake I will believe well of this young
peasant.”


“Then you do think there is some liking between
them,” said Bianca.  While she was speaking, a servant
came hastily into the chamber and told the Princess that the Lady
Isabella was found.


“Where?” said Matilda.


“She has taken sanctuary in St. Nicholas’s
church,” replied the servant; “Father Jerome has
brought the news himself; he is below with his
Highness.”


“Where is my mother?” said Matilda.


“She is in her own chamber, Madam, and has asked for
you.”


Manfred had risen at the first dawn of light, and gone to
Hippolita’s apartment, to inquire if she knew aught of
Isabella.  While he was questioning her, word was brought
that Jerome demanded to speak with him.  Manfred, little
suspecting the cause of the Friar’s arrival, and knowing he
was employed by Hippolita in her charities, ordered him to be
admitted, intending to leave them together, while he pursued his
search after Isabella.


“Is your business with me or the Princess?” said
Manfred.


“With both,” replied the holy man. 
“The Lady Isabella—”


“What of her?” interrupted Manfred, eagerly.


“Is at St. Nicholas’s altar,” replied
Jerome.


“That is no business of Hippolita,” said Manfred
with confusion; “let us retire to my chamber, Father, and
inform me how she came thither.”


“No, my Lord,” replied the good man, with an air
of firmness and authority, that daunted even the resolute
Manfred, who could not help revering the saint-like virtues of
Jerome; “my commission is to both, and with your
Highness’s good-liking, in the presence of both I shall
deliver it; but first, my Lord, I must interrogate the Princess,
whether she is acquainted with the cause of the Lady
Isabella’s retirement from your castle.”


“No, on my soul,” said Hippolita; “does
Isabella charge me with being privy to it?”


“Father,” interrupted Manfred, “I pay due
reverence to your holy profession; but I am sovereign here, and
will allow no meddling priest to interfere in the affairs of my
domestic.  If you have aught to say attend me to my chamber;
I do not use to let my wife be acquainted with the secret affairs
of my state; they are not within a woman’s
province.”


“My Lord,” said the holy man, “I am no
intruder into the secrets of families.  My office is to
promote peace, to heal divisions, to preach repentance, and teach
mankind to curb their headstrong passions.  I forgive your
Highness’s uncharitable apostrophe; I know my duty, and am
the minister of a mightier prince than Manfred.  Hearken to
him who speaks through my organs.”


Manfred trembled with rage and shame.  Hippolita’s
countenance declared her astonishment and impatience to know
where this would end.  Her silence more strongly spoke her
observance of Manfred.


“The Lady Isabella,” resumed Jerome,
“commends herself to both your Highnesses; she thanks both
for the kindness with which she has been treated in your castle:
she deplores the loss of your son, and her own misfortune in not
becoming the daughter of such wise and noble Princes, whom she
shall always respect as Parents; she prays for uninterrupted
union and felicity between you” [Manfred’s colour
changed]: “but as it is no longer possible for her to be
allied to you, she entreats your consent to remain in sanctuary,
till she can learn news of her father, or, by the certainty of
his death, be at liberty, with the approbation of her guardians,
to dispose of herself in suitable marriage.”


“I shall give no such consent,” said the Prince,
“but insist on her return to the castle without delay: I am
answerable for her person to her guardians, and will not brook
her being in any hands but my own.”


“Your Highness will recollect whether that can any
longer be proper,” replied the Friar.


“I want no monitor,” said Manfred, colouring;
“Isabella’s conduct leaves room for strange
suspicions—and that young villain, who was at least the
accomplice of her flight, if not the cause of
it—”


“The cause!” interrupted Jerome; “was a
young man the cause?”


“This is not to be borne!” cried Manfred. 
“Am I to be bearded in my own palace by an insolent
Monk?  Thou art privy, I guess, to their amours.”


“I would pray to heaven to clear up your uncharitable
surmises,” said Jerome, “if your Highness were not
satisfied in your conscience how unjustly you accuse me.  I
do pray to heaven to pardon that uncharitableness: and I implore
your Highness to leave the Princess at peace in that holy place,
where she is not liable to be disturbed by such vain and worldly
fantasies as discourses of love from any man.”


“Cant not to me,” said Manfred, “but return
and bring the Princess to her duty.”


“It is my duty to prevent her return hither,” said
Jerome.  “She is where orphans and virgins are safest
from the snares and wiles of this world; and nothing but a
parent’s authority shall take her thence.”


“I am her parent,” cried Manfred, “and
demand her.”


“She wished to have you for her parent,” said the
Friar; “but Heaven that forbad that connection has for ever
dissolved all ties betwixt you: and I announce to your
Highness—”


“Stop! audacious man,” said Manfred, “and
dread my displeasure.”


“Holy Father,” said Hippolita, “it is your
office to be no respecter of persons: you must speak as your duty
prescribes: but it is my duty to hear nothing that it pleases not
my Lord I should hear.  Attend the Prince to his
chamber.  I will retire to my oratory, and pray to the
blessed Virgin to inspire you with her holy counsels, and to
restore the heart of my gracious Lord to its wonted peace and
gentleness.”


“Excellent woman!” said the Friar.  “My
Lord, I attend your pleasure.”


Manfred, accompanied by the Friar, passed to his own
apartment, where shutting the door, “I perceive,
Father,” said he, “that Isabella has acquainted you
with my purpose.  Now hear my resolve, and obey. 
Reasons of state, most urgent reasons, my own and the safety of
my people, demand that I should have a son.  It is in vain
to expect an heir from Hippolita.  I have made choice of
Isabella.  You must bring her back; and you must do
more.  I know the influence you have with Hippolita: her
conscience is in your hands.  She is, I allow, a faultless
woman: her soul is set on heaven, and scorns the little grandeur
of this world: you can withdraw her from it entirely. 
Persuade her to consent to the dissolution of our marriage, and
to retire into a monastery—she shall endow one if she will;
and she shall have the means of being as liberal to your order as
she or you can wish.  Thus you will divert the calamities
that are hanging over our heads, and have the merit of saying the
principality of Otranto from destruction.  You are a prudent
man, and though the warmth of my temper betrayed me into some
unbecoming expressions, I honour your virtue, and wish to be
indebted to you for the repose of my life and the preservation of
my family.”


“The will of heaven be done!” said the
Friar.  “I am but its worthless instrument.  It
makes use of my tongue to tell thee, Prince, of thy unwarrantable
designs.  The injuries of the virtuous Hippolita have
mounted to the throne of pity.  By me thou art reprimanded
for thy adulterous intention of repudiating her: by me thou art
warned not to pursue the incestuous design on thy contracted
daughter.  Heaven that delivered her from thy fury, when the
judgments so recently fallen on thy house ought to have inspired
thee with other thoughts, will continue to watch over her. 
Even I, a poor and despised Friar, am able to protect her from
thy violence—I, sinner as I am, and uncharitably reviled by
your Highness as an accomplice of I know not what amours, scorn
the allurements with which it has pleased thee to tempt mine
honesty.  I love my order; I honour devout souls; I respect
the piety of thy Princess—but I will not betray the
confidence she reposes in me, nor serve even the cause of
religion by foul and sinful compliances—but forsooth! the
welfare of the state depends on your Highness having a son! 
Heaven mocks the short-sighted views of man.  But
yester-morn, whose house was so great, so flourishing as
Manfred’s?—where is young Conrad now?—My Lord,
I respect your tears—but I mean not to check them—let
them flow, Prince!  They will weigh more with heaven toward
the welfare of thy subjects, than a marriage, which, founded on
lust or policy, could never prosper.  The sceptre, which
passed from the race of Alfonso to thine, cannot be preserved by
a match which the church will never allow.  If it is the
will of the Most High that Manfred’s name must perish,
resign yourself, my Lord, to its decrees; and thus deserve a
crown that can never pass away.  Come, my Lord; I like this
sorrow—let us return to the Princess: she is not apprised
of your cruel intentions; nor did I mean more than to alarm
you.  You saw with what gentle patience, with what efforts
of love, she heard, she rejected hearing, the extent of your
guilt.  I know she longs to fold you in her arms, and assure
you of her unalterable affection.”


“Father,” said the Prince, “you mistake my
compunction: true, I honour Hippolita’s virtues; I think
her a Saint; and wish it were for my soul’s health to tie
faster the knot that has united us—but alas! Father, you
know not the bitterest of my pangs! it is some time that I have
had scruples on the legality of our union: Hippolita is related
to me in the fourth degree—it is true, we had a
dispensation: but I have been informed that she had also been
contracted to another.  This it is that sits heavy at my
heart: to this state of unlawful wedlock I impute the visitation
that has fallen on me in the death of Conrad!—ease my
conscience of this burden: dissolve our marriage, and accomplish
the work of godliness—which your divine exhortations have
commenced in my soul.”


How cutting was the anguish which the good man felt, when he
perceived this turn in the wily Prince!  He trembled for
Hippolita, whose ruin he saw was determined; and he feared if
Manfred had no hope of recovering Isabella, that his impatience
for a son would direct him to some other object, who might not be
equally proof against the temptation of Manfred’s
rank.  For some time the holy man remained absorbed in
thought.  At length, conceiving some hopes from delay, he
thought the wisest conduct would be to prevent the Prince from
despairing of recovering Isabella.  Her the Friar knew he
could dispose, from her affection to Hippolita, and from the
aversion she had expressed to him for Manfred’s addresses,
to second his views, till the censures of the church could be
fulminated against a divorce.  With this intention, as if
struck with the Prince’s scruples, he at length said:


“My Lord, I have been pondering on what your Highness
has said; and if in truth it is delicacy of conscience that is
the real motive of your repugnance to your virtuous Lady, far be
it from me to endeavour to harden your heart.  The church is
an indulgent mother: unfold your griefs to her: she alone can
administer comfort to your soul, either by satisfying your
conscience, or upon examination of your scruples, by setting you
at liberty, and indulging you in the lawful means of continuing
your lineage.  In the latter case, if the Lady Isabella can
be brought to consent—”


Manfred, who concluded that he had either over-reached the
good man, or that his first warmth had been but a tribute paid to
appearance, was overjoyed at this sudden turn, and repeated the
most magnificent promises, if he should succeed by the
Friar’s mediation.  The well-meaning priest suffered
him to deceive himself, fully determined to traverse his views,
instead of seconding them.


“Since we now understand one another,” resumed the
Prince, “I expect, Father, that you satisfy me in one
point.  Who is the youth that I found in the vault?  He
must have been privy to Isabella’s flight: tell me truly,
is he her lover? or is he an agent for another’s
passion?  I have often suspected Isabella’s
indifference to my son: a thousand circumstances crowd on my mind
that confirm that suspicion.  She herself was so conscious
of it, that while I discoursed her in the gallery, she outran my
suspicious, and endeavoured to justify herself from coolness to
Conrad.”


The Friar, who knew nothing of the youth, but what he had
learnt occasionally from the Princess, ignorant what was become
of him, and not sufficiently reflecting on the impetuosity of
Manfred’s temper, conceived that it might not be amiss to
sow the seeds of jealousy in his mind: they might be turned to
some use hereafter, either by prejudicing the Prince against
Isabella, if he persisted in that union or by diverting his
attention to a wrong scent, and employing his thoughts on a
visionary intrigue, prevent his engaging in any new
pursuit.  With this unhappy policy, he answered in a manner
to confirm Manfred in the belief of some connection between
Isabella and the youth.  The Prince, whose passions wanted
little fuel to throw them into a blaze, fell into a rage at the
idea of what the Friar suggested.


“I will fathom to the bottom of this intrigue,”
cried he; and quitting Jerome abruptly, with a command to remain
there till his return, he hastened to the great hall of the
castle, and ordered the peasant to be brought before him.


“Thou hardened young impostor!” said the Prince,
as soon as he saw the youth; “what becomes of thy boasted
veracity now? it was Providence, was it, and the light of the
moon, that discovered the lock of the trap-door to thee? 
Tell me, audacious boy, who thou art, and how long thou hast been
acquainted with the Princess—and take care to answer with
less equivocation than thou didst last night, or tortures shall
wring the truth from thee.”


The young man, perceiving that his share in the flight of the
Princess was discovered, and concluding that anything he should
say could no longer be of any service or detriment to her,
replied—


“I am no impostor, my Lord, nor have I deserved
opprobrious language.  I answered to every question your
Highness put to me last night with the same veracity that I shall
speak now: and that will not be from fear of your tortures, but
because my soul abhors a falsehood.  Please to repeat your
questions, my Lord; I am ready to give you all the satisfaction
in my power.”


“You know my questions,” replied the Prince,
“and only want time to prepare an evasion.  Speak
directly; who art thou? and how long hast thou been known to the
Princess?”


“I am a labourer at the next village,” said the
peasant; “my name is Theodore.  The Princess found me
in the vault last night: before that hour I never was in her
presence.”


“I may believe as much or as little as I please of
this,” said Manfred; “but I will hear thy own story
before I examine into the truth of it.  Tell me, what reason
did the Princess give thee for making her escape? thy life
depends on thy answer.”


“She told me,” replied Theodore, “that she
was on the brink of destruction, and that if she could not escape
from the castle, she was in danger in a few moments of being made
miserable for ever.”


“And on this slight foundation, on a silly girl’s
report,” said Manfred, “thou didst hazard my
displeasure?”


“I fear no man’s displeasure,” said
Theodore, “when a woman in distress puts herself under my
protection.”


During this examination, Matilda was going to the apartment of
Hippolita.  At the upper end of the hall, where Manfred sat,
was a boarded gallery with latticed windows, through which
Matilda and Bianca were to pass.  Hearing her father’s
voice, and seeing the servants assembled round him, she stopped
to learn the occasion.  The prisoner soon drew her
attention: the steady and composed manner in which he answered,
and the gallantry of his last reply, which were the first words
she heard distinctly, interested her in his flavour.  His
person was noble, handsome, and commanding, even in that
situation: but his countenance soon engrossed her whole care.


“Heavens!  Bianca,” said the Princess softly,
“do I dream? or is not that youth the exact resemblance of
Alfonso’s picture in the gallery?”


She could say no more, for her father’s voice grew
louder at every word.


“This bravado,” said he, “surpasses all thy
former insolence.  Thou shalt experience the wrath with
which thou darest to trifle.  Seize him,” continued
Manfred, “and bind him—the first news the Princess
hears of her champion shall be, that he has lost his head for her
sake.”


“The injustice of which thou art guilty towards
me,” said Theodore, “convinces me that I have done a
good deed in delivering the Princess from thy tyranny.  May
she be happy, whatever becomes of me!”


“This is a lover!” cried Manfred in a rage:
“a peasant within sight of death is not animated by such
sentiments.  Tell me, tell me, rash boy, who thou art, or
the rack shall force thy secret from thee.”


“Thou hast threatened me with death already,” said
the youth, “for the truth I have told thee: if that is all
the encouragement I am to expect for sincerity, I am not tempted
to indulge thy vain curiosity farther.”


“Then thou wilt not speak?” said Manfred.


“I will not,” replied he.


“Bear him away into the courtyard,” said Manfred;
“I will see his head this instant severed from his
body.”


Matilda fainted at hearing those words.  Bianca shrieked,
and cried—


“Help! help! the Princess is dead!”  Manfred
started at this ejaculation, and demanded what was the
matter!  The young peasant, who heard it too, was struck
with horror, and asked eagerly the same question; but Manfred
ordered him to be hurried into the court, and kept there for
execution, till he had informed himself of the cause of
Bianca’s shrieks.  When he learned the meaning, he
treated it as a womanish panic, and ordering Matilda to be
carried to her apartment, he rushed into the court, and calling
for one of his guards, bade Theodore kneel down, and prepare to
receive the fatal blow.


The undaunted youth received the bitter sentence with a
resignation that touched every heart but Manfred’s. 
He wished earnestly to know the meaning of the words he had heard
relating to the Princess; but fearing to exasperate the tyrant
more against her, he desisted.  The only boon he deigned to
ask was, that he might be permitted to have a confessor, and make
his peace with heaven.  Manfred, who hoped by the
confessor’s means to come at the youth’s history,
readily granted his request; and being convinced that Father
Jerome was now in his interest, he ordered him to be called and
shrive the prisoner.  The holy man, who had little foreseen
the catastrophe that his imprudence occasioned, fell on his knees
to the Prince, and adjured him in the most solemn manner not to
shed innocent blood.  He accused himself in the bitterest
terms for his indiscretion, endeavoured to disculpate the youth,
and left no method untried to soften the tyrant’s
rage.  Manfred, more incensed than appeased by
Jerome’s intercession, whose retraction now made him
suspect he had been imposed upon by both, commanded the Friar to
do his duty, telling him he would not allow the prisoner many
minutes for confession.


“Nor do I ask many, my Lord,” said the unhappy
young man.  “My sins, thank heaven, have not been
numerous; nor exceed what might be expected at my years. 
Dry your tears, good Father, and let us despatch.  This is a
bad world; nor have I had cause to leave it with
regret.”


“Oh wretched youth!” said Jerome; “how canst
thou bear the sight of me with patience?  I am thy murderer!
it is I have brought this dismal hour upon thee!”


“I forgive thee from my soul,” said the youth,
“as I hope heaven will pardon me.  Hear my confession,
Father; and give me thy blessing.”


“How can I prepare thee for thy passage as I
ought?” said Jerome.  “Thou canst not be saved
without pardoning thy foes—and canst thou forgive that
impious man there?”


“I can,” said Theodore; “I do.”


“And does not this touch thee, cruel Prince?” said
the Friar.


“I sent for thee to confess him,” said Manfred,
sternly; “not to plead for him.  Thou didst first
incense me against him—his blood be upon thy
head!”


“It will! it will!” said the good man, in an
agony of sorrow.  “Thou and I must never hope to go
where this blessed youth is going!”


“Despatch!” said Manfred; “I am no more to
be moved by the whining of priests than by the shrieks of
women.”


“What!” said the youth; “is it possible that
my fate could have occasioned what I heard!  Is the Princess
then again in thy power?”


“Thou dost but remember me of my wrath,” said
Manfred.  “Prepare thee, for this moment is thy
last.”


The youth, who felt his indignation rise, and who was touched
with the sorrow which he saw he had infused into all the
spectators, as well as into the Friar, suppressed his emotions,
and putting off his doublet, and unbuttoning, his collar, knelt
down to his prayers.  As he stooped, his shirt slipped down
below his shoulder, and discovered the mark of a bloody
arrow.


“Gracious heaven!” cried the holy man, starting;
“what do I see?  It is my child! my
Theodore!”


The passions that ensued must be conceived; they cannot be
painted.  The tears of the assistants were suspended by
wonder, rather than stopped by joy.  They seemed to inquire
in the eyes of their Lord what they ought to feel. 
Surprise, doubt, tenderness, respect, succeeded each other in the
countenance of the youth.  He received with modest
submission the effusion of the old man’s tears and
embraces.  Yet afraid of giving a loose to hope, and
suspecting from what had passed the inflexibility of
Manfred’s temper, he cast a glance towards the Prince, as
if to say, canst thou be unmoved at such a scene as this?


Manfred’s heart was capable of being touched.  He
forgot his anger in his astonishment; yet his pride forbad his
owning himself affected.  He even doubted whether this
discovery was not a contrivance of the Friar to save the
youth.


“What may this mean?” said he.  “How
can he be thy son?  Is it consistent with thy profession or
reputed sanctity to avow a peasant’s offspring for the
fruit of thy irregular amours!”


“Oh, God!” said the holy man, “dost thou
question his being mine?  Could I feel the anguish I do if I
were not his father?  Spare him! good Prince! spare him! and
revile me as thou pleasest.”


“Spare him! spare him!” cried the attendants;
“for this good man’s sake!”


“Peace!” said Manfred, sternly.  “I
must know more ere I am disposed to pardon.  A Saint’s
bastard may be no saint himself.”


“Injurious Lord!” said Theodore, “add not
insult to cruelty.  If I am this venerable man’s son,
though no Prince, as thou art, know the blood that flows in my
veins—”


“Yes,” said the Friar, interrupting him,
“his blood is noble; nor is he that abject thing, my Lord,
you speak him.  He is my lawful son, and Sicily can boast of
few houses more ancient than that of Falconara.  But alas!
my Lord, what is blood! what is nobility!  We are all
reptiles, miserable, sinful creatures.  It is piety alone
that can distinguish us from the dust whence we sprung, and
whither we must return.”


“Truce to your sermon,” said Manfred; “you
forget you are no longer Friar Jerome, but the Count of
Falconara.  Let me know your history; you will have time to
moralise hereafter, if you should not happen to obtain the grace
of that sturdy criminal there.”


“Mother of God!” said the Friar, “is it
possible my Lord can refuse a father the life of his only, his
long-lost, child!  Trample me, my Lord, scorn, afflict me,
accept my life for his, but spare my son!”


“Thou canst feel, then,” said Manfred, “what
it is to lose an only son!  A little hour ago thou didst
preach up resignation to me: my house, if fate so pleased,
must perish—but the Count of Falconara—”


“Alas! my Lord,” said Jerome, “I confess I
have offended; but aggravate not an old man’s
sufferings!  I boast not of my family, nor think of such
vanities—it is nature, that pleads for this boy; it is the
memory of the dear woman that bore him.  Is she, Theodore,
is she dead?”


“Her soul has long been with the blessed,” said
Theodore.


“Oh! how?” cried Jerome, “tell
me—no—she is happy!  Thou art all my care
now!—Most dread Lord! will you—will you grant me my
poor boy’s life?”


“Return to thy convent,” answered Manfred;
“conduct the Princess hither; obey me in what else thou
knowest; and I promise thee the life of thy son.”


“Oh! my Lord,” said Jerome, “is my honesty
the price I must pay for this dear youth’s
safety?”


“For me!” cried Theodore.  “Let me die
a thousand deaths, rather than stain thy conscience.  What
is it the tyrant would exact of thee?  Is the Princess still
safe from his power?  Protect her, thou venerable old man;
and let all the weight of his wrath fall on me.”


Jerome endeavoured to check the impetuosity of the youth; and
ere Manfred could reply, the trampling of horses was heard, and a
brazen trumpet, which hung without the gate of the castle, was
suddenly sounded.  At the same instant the sable plumes on
the enchanted helmet, which still remained at the other end of
the court, were tempestuously agitated, and nodded thrice, as if
bowed by some invisible wearer.


CHAPTER III.


Manfred’s heart misgave him when he beheld the plumage
on the miraculous casque shaken in concert with the sounding of
the brazen trumpet.


“Father!” said he to Jerome, whom he now ceased to
treat as Count of Falconara, “what mean these
portents?  If I have offended—” the plumes were
shaken with greater violence than before.


“Unhappy Prince that I am,” cried Manfred. 
“Holy Father! will you not assist me with your
prayers?”


“My Lord,” replied Jerome, “heaven is no
doubt displeased with your mockery of its servants.  Submit
yourself to the church; and cease to persecute her
ministers.  Dismiss this innocent youth; and learn to
respect the holy character I wear.  Heaven will not be
trifled with: you see—” the trumpet sounded
again.


“I acknowledge I have been too hasty,” said
Manfred.  “Father, do you go to the wicket, and demand
who is at the gate.”


“Do you grant me the life of Theodore?” replied
the Friar.


“I do,” said Manfred; “but inquire who is
without!”


Jerome, falling on the neck of his son, discharged a flood of
tears, that spoke the fulness of his soul.


“You promised to go to the gate,” said
Manfred.


“I thought,” replied the Friar, “your
Highness would excuse my thanking you first in this tribute of my
heart.”


“Go, dearest Sir,” said Theodore; “obey the
Prince.  I do not deserve that you should delay his
satisfaction for me.”


Jerome, inquiring who was without, was answered, “A
Herald.”


“From whom?” said he.


“From the Knight of the Gigantic Sabre,” said the
Herald; “and I must speak with the usurper of
Otranto.”


Jerome returned to the Prince, and did not fail to repeat the
message in the very words it had been uttered.  The first
sounds struck Manfred with terror; but when he heard himself
styled usurper, his rage rekindled, and all his courage
revived.


“Usurper!—insolent villain!” cried he;
“who dares to question my title?  Retire, Father; this
is no business for Monks: I will meet this presumptuous man
myself.  Go to your convent and prepare the Princess’s
return.  Your son shall be a hostage for your fidelity: his
life depends on your obedience.”


“Good heaven! my Lord,” cried Jerome, “your
Highness did but this instant freely pardon my child—have
you so soon forgot the interposition of heaven?”


“Heaven,” replied Manfred, “does not send
Heralds to question the title of a lawful Prince.  I doubt
whether it even notifies its will through Friars—but that
is your affair, not mine.  At present you know my pleasure;
and it is not a saucy Herald that shall save your son, if you do
not return with the Princess.”


It was in vain for the holy man to reply.  Manfred
commanded him to be conducted to the postern-gate, and shut out
from the castle.  And he ordered some of his attendants to
carry Theodore to the top of the black tower, and guard him
strictly; scarce permitting the father and son to exchange a
hasty embrace at parting.  He then withdrew to the hall, and
seating himself in princely state, ordered the Herald to be
admitted to his presence.


“Well! thou insolent!” said the Prince,
“what wouldst thou with me?”


“I come,” replied he, “to thee, Manfred,
usurper of the principality of Otranto, from the renowned and
invincible Knight, the Knight of the Gigantic Sabre: in the name
of his Lord, Frederic, Marquis of Vicenza, he demands the Lady
Isabella, daughter of that Prince, whom thou hast basely and
traitorously got into thy power, by bribing her false guardians
during his absence; and he requires thee to resign the
principality of Otranto, which thou hast usurped from the said
Lord Frederic, the nearest of blood to the last rightful Lord,
Alfonso the Good.  If thou dost not instantly comply with
these just demands, he defies thee to single combat to the last
extremity.”  And so saying the Herald cast down his
warder.


“And where is this braggart who sends thee?” said
Manfred.


“At the distance of a league,” said the Herald:
“he comes to make good his Lord’s claim against thee,
as he is a true knight, and thou an usurper and
ravisher.”


Injurious as this challenge was, Manfred reflected that it was
not his interest to provoke the Marquis.  He knew how well
founded the claim of Frederic was; nor was this the first time he
had heard of it.  Frederic’s ancestors had assumed the
style of Princes of Otranto, from the death of Alfonso the Good
without issue; but Manfred, his father, and grandfather, had been
too powerful for the house of Vicenza to dispossess them. 
Frederic, a martial and amorous young Prince, had married a
beautiful young lady, of whom he was enamoured, and who had died
in childbed of Isabella.  Her death affected him so much
that he had taken the cross and gone to the Holy Land, where he
was wounded in an engagement against the infidels, made prisoner,
and reported to be dead.  When the news reached
Manfred’s ears, he bribed the guardians of the Lady
Isabella to deliver her up to him as a bride for his son Conrad,
by which alliance he had proposed to unite the claims of the two
houses.  This motive, on Conrad’s death, had
co-operated to make him so suddenly resolve on espousing her
himself; and the same reflection determined him now to endeavour
at obtaining the consent of Frederic to this marriage.  A
like policy inspired him with the thought of inviting
Frederic’s champion into the castle, lest he should be
informed of Isabella’s flight, which he strictly enjoined
his domestics not to disclose to any of the Knight’s
retinue.


“Herald,” said Manfred, as soon as he had digested
these reflections, “return to thy master, and tell him, ere
we liquidate our differences by the sword, Manfred would hold
some converse with him.  Bid him welcome to my castle, where
by my faith, as I am a true Knight, he shall have courteous
reception, and full security for himself and followers.  If
we cannot adjust our quarrel by amicable means, I swear he shall
depart in safety, and shall have full satisfaction according to
the laws of arms: So help me God and His holy Trinity!”


The Herald made three obeisances and retired.


During this interview Jerome’s mind was agitated by a
thousand contrary passions.  He trembled for the life of his
son, and his first thought was to persuade Isabella to return to
the castle.  Yet he was scarce less alarmed at the thought
of her union with Manfred.  He dreaded Hippolita’s
unbounded submission to the will of her Lord; and though he did
not doubt but he could alarm her piety not to consent to a
divorce, if he could get access to her; yet should Manfred
discover that the obstruction came from him, it might be equally
fatal to Theodore.  He was impatient to know whence came the
Herald, who with so little management had questioned the title of
Manfred: yet he did not dare absent himself from the convent,
lest Isabella should leave it, and her flight be imputed to
him.  He returned disconsolately to the monastery, uncertain
on what conduct to resolve.  A Monk, who met him in the
porch and observed his melancholy air, said—


“Alas! brother, is it then true that we have lost our
excellent Princess Hippolita?”


The holy man started, and cried, “What meanest thou,
brother?  I come this instant from the castle, and left her
in perfect health.”


“Martelli,” replied the other Friar, “passed
by the convent but a quarter of an hour ago on his way from the
castle, and reported that her Highness was dead.  All our
brethren are gone to the chapel to pray for her happy transit to
a better life, and willed me to wait thy arrival.  They know
thy holy attachment to that good Lady, and are anxious for the
affliction it will cause in thee—indeed we have all reason
to weep; she was a mother to our house.  But this life is
but a pilgrimage; we must not murmur—we shall all follow
her!  May our end be like hers!”


“Good brother, thou dreamest,” said Jerome. 
“I tell thee I come from the castle, and left the Princess
well.  Where is the Lady Isabella?”


“Poor Gentlewoman!” replied the Friar; “I
told her the sad news, and offered her spiritual comfort.  I
reminded her of the transitory condition of mortality, and
advised her to take the veil: I quoted the example of the holy
Princess Sanchia of Arragon.”


“Thy zeal was laudable,” said Jerome, impatiently;
“but at present it was unnecessary: Hippolita is
well—at least I trust in the Lord she is; I heard nothing
to the contrary—yet, methinks, the Prince’s
earnestness—Well, brother, but where is the Lady
Isabella?”


“I know not,” said the Friar; “she wept
much, and said she would retire to her chamber.”


Jerome left his comrade abruptly, and hastened to the
Princess, but she was not in her chamber.  He inquired of
the domestics of the convent, but could learn no news of
her.  He searched in vain throughout the monastery and the
church, and despatched messengers round the neighbourhood, to get
intelligence if she had been seen; but to no purpose. 
Nothing could equal the good man’s perplexity.  He
judged that Isabella, suspecting Manfred of having precipitated
his wife’s death, had taken the alarm, and withdrawn
herself to some more secret place of concealment.  This new
flight would probably carry the Prince’s fury to the
height.  The report of Hippolita’s death, though it
seemed almost incredible, increased his consternation; and though
Isabella’s escape bespoke her aversion of Manfred for a
husband, Jerome could feel no comfort from it, while it
endangered the life of his son.  He determined to return to
the castle, and made several of his brethren accompany him to
attest his innocence to Manfred, and, if necessary, join their
intercession with his for Theodore.


The Prince, in the meantime, had passed into the court, and
ordered the gates of the castle to be flung open for the
reception of the stranger Knight and his train.  In a few
minutes the cavalcade arrived.  First came two harbingers
with wands.  Next a herald, followed by two pages and two
trumpets.  Then a hundred foot-guards.  These were
attended by as many horse.  After them fifty footmen,
clothed in scarlet and black, the colours of the Knight. 
Then a led horse.  Two heralds on each side of a gentleman
on horseback bearing a banner with the arms of Vicenza and
Otranto quarterly—a circumstance that much offended
Manfred—but he stifled his resentment.  Two more
pages.  The Knight’s confessor telling his
beads.  Fifty more footmen clad as before.  Two Knights
habited in complete armour, their beavers down, comrades to the
principal Knight.  The squires of the two Knights, carrying
their shields and devices.  The Knight’s own
squire.  A hundred gentlemen bearing an enormous sword, and
seeming to faint under the weight of it.  The Knight himself
on a chestnut steed, in complete armour, his lance in the rest,
his face entirely concealed by his vizor, which was surmounted by
a large plume of scarlet and black feathers.  Fifty
foot-guards with drums and trumpets closed the procession, which
wheeled off to the right and left to make room for the principal
Knight.


As soon as he approached the gate he stopped; and the herald
advancing, read again the words of the challenge. 
Manfred’s eyes were fixed on the gigantic sword, and he
scarce seemed to attend to the cartel: but his attention was soon
diverted by a tempest of wind that rose behind him.  He
turned and beheld the Plumes of the enchanted helmet agitated in
the same extraordinary manner as before.  It required
intrepidity like Manfred’s not to sink under a concurrence
of circumstances that seemed to announce his fate.  Yet
scorning in the presence of strangers to betray the courage he
had always manifested, he said boldly—


“Sir Knight, whoever thou art, I bid thee welcome. 
If thou art of mortal mould, thy valour shall meet its equal: and
if thou art a true Knight, thou wilt scorn to employ sorcery to
carry thy point.  Be these omens from heaven or hell,
Manfred trusts to the righteousness of his cause and to the aid
of St. Nicholas, who has ever protected his house.  Alight,
Sir Knight, and repose thyself.  To-morrow thou shalt have a
fair field, and heaven befriend the juster side!”


The Knight made no reply, but dismounting, was conducted by
Manfred to the great hall of the castle.  As they traversed
the court, the Knight stopped to gaze on the miraculous casque;
and kneeling down, seemed to pray inwardly for some
minutes.  Rising, he made a sign to the Prince to lead
on.  As soon as they entered the hall, Manfred proposed to
the stranger to disarm, but the Knight shook his head in token of
refusal.


“Sir Knight,” said Manfred, “this is not
courteous, but by my good faith I will not cross thee, nor shalt
thou have cause to complain of the Prince of Otranto.  No
treachery is designed on my part; I hope none is intended on
thine; here take my gage” (giving him his ring):
“your friends and you shall enjoy the laws of
hospitality.  Rest here until refreshments are
brought.  I will but give orders for the accommodation of
your train, and return to you.”  The three Knights
bowed as accepting his courtesy.  Manfred directed the
stranger’s retinue to be conducted to an adjacent hospital,
founded by the Princess Hippolita for the reception of
pilgrims.  As they made the circuit of the court to return
towards the gate, the gigantic sword burst from the supporters,
and falling to the ground opposite to the helmet, remained
immovable.  Manfred, almost hardened to preternatural
appearances, surmounted the shock of this new prodigy; and
returning to the hall, where by this time the feast was ready, he
invited his silent guests to take their places.  Manfred,
however ill his heart was at ease, endeavoured to inspire the
company with mirth.  He put several questions to them, but
was answered only by signs.  They raised their vizors but
sufficiently to feed themselves, and that sparingly.


“Sirs” said the Prince, “ye are the first
guests I ever treated within these walls who scorned to hold any
intercourse with me: nor has it oft been customary, I ween, for
princes to hazard their state and dignity against strangers and
mutes.  You say you come in the name of Frederic of Vicenza;
I have ever heard that he was a gallant and courteous Knight; nor
would he, I am bold to say, think it beneath him to mix in social
converse with a Prince that is his equal, and not unknown by
deeds in arms.  Still ye are silent—well! be it as it
may—by the laws of hospitality and chivalry ye are masters
under this roof: ye shall do your pleasure.  But come, give
me a goblet of wine; ye will not refuse to pledge me to the
healths of your fair mistresses.”


The principal Knight sighed and crossed himself, and was
rising from the board.


“Sir Knight,” said Manfred, “what I said was
but in sport.  I shall constrain you in nothing: use your
good liking.  Since mirth is not your mood, let us be
sad.  Business may hit your fancies better.  Let us
withdraw, and hear if what I have to unfold may be better
relished than the vain efforts I have made for your
pastime.”


Manfred then conducting the three Knights into an inner
chamber, shut the door, and inviting them to be seated, began
thus, addressing himself to the chief personage:—


“You come, Sir Knight, as I understand, in the name of
the Marquis of Vicenza, to re-demand the Lady Isabella, his
daughter, who has been contracted in the face of Holy Church to
my son, by the consent of her legal guardians; and to require me
to resign my dominions to your Lord, who gives himself for the
nearest of blood to Prince Alfonso, whose soul God rest!  I
shall speak to the latter article of your demands first. 
You must know, your Lord knows, that I enjoy the principality of
Otranto from my father, Don Manuel, as he received it from his
father, Don Ricardo.  Alfonso, their predecessor, dying
childless in the Holy Land, bequeathed his estates to my
grandfather, Don Ricardo, in consideration of his faithful
services.”  The stranger shook his head.


“Sir Knight,” said Manfred, warmly, “Ricardo
was a valiant and upright man; he was a pious man; witness his
munificent foundation of the adjoining church and two
convents.  He was peculiarly patronised by St.
Nicholas—my grandfather was incapable—I say, Sir, Don
Ricardo was incapable—excuse me, your interruption has
disordered me.  I venerate the memory of my
grandfather.  Well, Sirs, he held this estate; he held it by
his good sword and by the favour of St. Nicholas—so did my
father; and so, Sirs, will I, come what come will.  But
Frederic, your Lord, is nearest in blood.  I have consented
to put my title to the issue of the sword.  Does that imply
a vicious title?  I might have asked, where is Frederic your
Lord?  Report speaks him dead in captivity.  You say,
your actions say, he lives—I question it not—I might,
Sirs, I might—but I do not.  Other Princes would bid
Frederic take his inheritance by force, if he can: they would not
stake their dignity on a single combat: they would not submit it
to the decision of unknown mutes!—pardon me, gentlemen, I
am too warm: but suppose yourselves in my situation: as ye are
stout Knights, would it not move your choler to have your own and
the honour of your ancestors called in question?”


“But to the point.  Ye require me to deliver up the
Lady Isabella.  Sirs, I must ask if ye are authorised to
receive her?”


The Knight nodded.


“Receive her,” continued Manfred; “well, you
are authorised to receive her, but, gentle Knight, may I ask if
you have full powers?”


The Knight nodded.


“’Tis well,” said Manfred; “then hear
what I have to offer.  Ye see, gentlemen, before you, the
most unhappy of men!” (he began to weep); “afford me
your compassion; I am entitled to it, indeed I am.  Know, I
have lost my only hope, my joy, the support of my
house—Conrad died yester morning.”


The Knights discovered signs of surprise.


“Yes, Sirs, fate has disposed of my son.  Isabella
is at liberty.”


“Do you then restore her?” cried the chief Knight,
breaking silence.


“Afford me your patience,” said Manfred. 
“I rejoice to find, by this testimony of your goodwill,
that this matter may be adjusted without blood.  It is no
interest of mine dictates what little I have farther to
say.  Ye behold in me a man disgusted with the world: the
loss of my son has weaned me from earthly cares.  Power and
greatness have no longer any charms in my eyes.  I wished to
transmit the sceptre I had received from my ancestors with honour
to my son—but that is over!  Life itself is so
indifferent to me, that I accepted your defiance with joy. 
A good Knight cannot go to the grave with more satisfaction than
when falling in his vocation: whatever is the will of heaven, I
submit; for alas! Sirs, I am a man of many sorrows.  Manfred
is no object of envy, but no doubt you are acquainted with my
story.”


The Knight made signs of ignorance, and seemed curious to have
Manfred proceed.


“Is it possible, Sirs,” continued the Prince,
“that my story should be a secret to you?  Have you
heard nothing relating to me and the Princess
Hippolita?”


They shook their heads.


“No!  Thus, then, Sirs, it is.  You think me
ambitious: ambition, alas! is composed of more rugged
materials.  If I were ambitious, I should not for so many
years have been a prey to all the hell of conscientious
scruples.  But I weary your patience: I will be brief. 
Know, then, that I have long been troubled in mind on my union
with the Princess Hippolita.  Oh! Sirs, if ye were
acquainted with that excellent woman! if ye knew that I adore her
like a mistress, and cherish her as a friend—but man was
not born for perfect happiness!  She shares my scruples, and
with her consent I have brought this matter before the church,
for we are related within the forbidden degrees.  I expect
every hour the definitive sentence that must separate us for
ever—I am sure you feel for me—I see you
do—pardon these tears!”


The Knights gazed on each other, wondering where this would
end.


Manfred continued—


“The death of my son betiding while my soul was under
this anxiety, I thought of nothing but resigning my dominions,
and retiring for ever from the sight of mankind.  My only
difficulty was to fix on a successor, who would be tender of my
people, and to dispose of the Lady Isabella, who is dear to me as
my own blood.  I was willing to restore the line of Alfonso,
even in his most distant kindred.  And though, pardon me, I
am satisfied it was his will that Ricardo’s lineage should
take place of his own relations; yet where was I to search for
those relations?  I knew of none but Frederic, your Lord; he
was a captive to the infidels, or dead; and were he living, and
at home, would he quit the flourishing State of Vicenza for the
inconsiderable principality of Otranto?  If he would not,
could I bear the thought of seeing a hard, unfeeling, Viceroy set
over my poor faithful people? for, Sirs, I love my people, and
thank heaven am beloved by them.  But ye will ask whither
tends this long discourse?  Briefly, then, thus, Sirs. 
Heaven in your arrival seems to point out a remedy for these
difficulties and my misfortunes.  The Lady Isabella is at
liberty; I shall soon be so.  I would submit to anything for
the good of my people.  Were it not the best, the only way
to extinguish the feuds between our families, if I was to take
the Lady Isabella to wife?  You start.  But though
Hippolita’s virtues will ever be dear to me, a Prince must
not consider himself; he is born for his people.”  A
servant at that instant entering the chamber apprised Manfred
that Jerome and several of his brethren demanded immediate access
to him.


The Prince, provoked at this interruption, and fearing that
the Friar would discover to the strangers that Isabella had taken
sanctuary, was going to forbid Jerome’s entrance.  But
recollecting that he was certainly arrived to notify the
Princess’s return, Manfred began to excuse himself to the
Knights for leaving them for a few moments, but was prevented by
the arrival of the Friars.  Manfred angrily reprimanded them
for their intrusion, and would have forced them back from the
chamber; but Jerome was too much agitated to be repulsed. 
He declared aloud the flight of Isabella, with protestations of
his own innocence.


Manfred, distracted at the news, and not less at its coming to
the knowledge of the strangers, uttered nothing but incoherent
sentences, now upbraiding the Friar, now apologising to the
Knights, earnest to know what was become of Isabella, yet equally
afraid of their knowing; impatient to pursue her, yet dreading to
have them join in the pursuit.  He offered to despatch
messengers in quest of her, but the chief Knight, no longer
keeping silence, reproached Manfred in bitter terms for his dark
and ambiguous dealing, and demanded the cause of Isabella’s
first absence from the castle.  Manfred, casting a stern
look at Jerome, implying a command of silence, pretended that on
Conrad’s death he had placed her in sanctuary until he
could determine how to dispose of her.  Jerome, who trembled
for his son’s life, did not dare contradict this falsehood,
but one of his brethren, not under the same anxiety, declared
frankly that she had fled to their church in the preceding
night.  The Prince in vain endeavoured to stop this
discovery, which overwhelmed him with shame and confusion. 
The principal stranger, amazed at the contradictions he heard,
and more than half persuaded that Manfred had secreted the
Princess, notwithstanding the concern he expressed at her flight,
rushing to the door, said—


“Thou traitor Prince!  Isabella shall be
found.”


Manfred endeavoured to hold him, but the other Knights
assisting their comrade, he broke from the Prince, and hastened
into the court, demanding his attendants.  Manfred, finding
it vain to divert him from the pursuit, offered to accompany him
and summoning his attendants, and taking Jerome and some of the
Friars to guide them, they issued from the castle; Manfred
privately giving orders to have the Knight’s company
secured, while to the knight he affected to despatch a messenger
to require their assistance.


The company had no sooner quitted the castle than Matilda, who
felt herself deeply interested for the young peasant, since she
had seen him condemned to death in the hall, and whose thoughts
had been taken up with concerting measures to save him, was
informed by some of the female attendants that Manfred had
despatched all his men various ways in pursuit of Isabella. 
He had in his hurry given this order in general terms, not
meaning to extend it to the guard he had set upon Theodore, but
forgetting it.  The domestics, officious to obey so
peremptory a Prince, and urged by their own curiosity and love of
novelty to join in any precipitate chase, had to a man left the
castle.  Matilda disengaged herself from her women, stole up
to the black tower, and unbolting the door, presented herself to
the astonished Theodore.


“Young man,” said she, “though filial duty
and womanly modesty condemn the step I am taking, yet holy
charity, surmounting all other ties, justifies this act. 
Fly; the doors of thy prison are open: my father and his
domestics are absent; but they may soon return.  Be gone in
safety; and may the angels of heaven direct thy
course!”


“Thou art surely one of those angels!” said the
enraptured Theodore: “none but a blessed saint could speak,
could act—could look—like thee.  May I not know
the name of my divine protectress?  Methought thou namedst
thy father.  Is it possible?  Can Manfred’s blood
feel holy pity!  Lovely Lady, thou answerest not.  But
how art thou here thyself?  Why dost thou neglect thy own
safety, and waste a thought on a wretch like Theodore?  Let
us fly together: the life thou bestowest shall be dedicated to
thy defence.”


“Alas! thou mistakest,” said Matilda, signing:
“I am Manfred’s daughter, but no dangers await
me.”


“Amazement!” said Theodore; “but last night
I blessed myself for yielding thee the service thy gracious
compassion so charitably returns me now.”


“Still thou art in an error,” said the Princess;
“but this is no time for explanation.  Fly, virtuous
youth, while it is in my power to save thee: should my father
return, thou and I both should indeed have cause to
tremble.”


“How!” said Theodore; “thinkest thou,
charming maid, that I will accept of life at the hazard of aught
calamitous to thee?  Better I endured a thousand
deaths.”


“I run no risk,” said Matilda, “but by thy
delay.  Depart; it cannot be known that I have assisted thy
flight.”


“Swear by the saints above,” said Theodore,
“that thou canst not be suspected; else here I vow to await
whatever can befall me.”


“Oh! thou art too generous,” said Matilda;
“but rest assured that no suspicion can alight on
me.”


“Give me thy beauteous hand in token that thou dost not
deceive me,” said Theodore; “and let me bathe it with
the warm tears of gratitude.”


“Forbear!” said the Princess; “this must not
be.”


“Alas!” said Theodore, “I have never known
but calamity until this hour—perhaps shall never know other
fortune again: suffer the chaste raptures of holy gratitude:
’tis my soul would print its effusions on thy
hand.”


“Forbear, and be gone,” said Matilda. 
“How would Isabella approve of seeing thee at my
feet?”


“Who is Isabella?” said the young man with
surprise.


“Ah, me!  I fear,” said the Princess,
“I am serving a deceitful one.  Hast thou forgot thy
curiosity this morning?”


“Thy looks, thy actions, all thy beauteous self seem an
emanation of divinity,” said Theodore; “but thy words
are dark and mysterious.  Speak, Lady; speak to thy
servant’s comprehension.”


“Thou understandest but too well!” said Matilda;
“but once more I command thee to be gone: thy blood, which
I may preserve, will be on my head, if I waste the time in vain
discourse.”


“I go, Lady,” said Theodore, “because it is
thy will, and because I would not bring the grey hairs of my
father with sorrow to the grave.  Say but, adored Lady, that
I have thy gentle pity.”


“Stay,” said Matilda; “I will conduct thee
to the subterraneous vault by which Isabella escaped; it will
lead thee to the church of St. Nicholas, where thou mayst take
sanctuary.”


“What!” said Theodore, “was it another, and
not thy lovely self that I assisted to find the subterraneous
passage?”


“It was,” said Matilda; “but ask no more; I
tremble to see thee still abide here; fly to the
sanctuary.”


“To sanctuary,” said Theodore; “no,
Princess; sanctuaries are for helpless damsels, or for
criminals.  Theodore’s soul is free from guilt, nor
will wear the appearance of it.  Give me a sword, Lady, and
thy father shall learn that Theodore scorns an ignominious
flight.”


“Rash youth!” said Matilda; “thou wouldst
not dare to lift thy presumptuous arm against the Prince of
Otranto?”


“Not against thy father; indeed, I dare not,” said
Theodore.  “Excuse me, Lady; I had forgotten. 
But could I gaze on thee, and remember thou art sprung from the
tyrant Manfred!  But he is thy father, and from this moment
my injuries are buried in oblivion.”


A deep and hollow groan, which seemed to come from above,
startled the Princess and Theodore.


“Good heaven! we are overheard!” said the
Princess.  They listened; but perceiving no further noise,
they both concluded it the effect of pent-up vapours.  And
the Princess, preceding Theodore softly, carried him to her
father’s armoury, where, equipping him with a complete
suit, he was conducted by Matilda to the postern-gate.


“Avoid the town,” said the Princess, “and
all the western side of the castle.  ’Tis there the
search must be making by Manfred and the strangers; but hie thee
to the opposite quarter.  Yonder behind that forest to the
east is a chain of rocks, hollowed into a labyrinth of caverns
that reach to the sea coast.  There thou mayst lie
concealed, till thou canst make signs to some vessel to put on
shore, and take thee off.  Go! heaven be thy
guide!—and sometimes in thy prayers
remember—Matilda!”


Theodore flung himself at her feet, and seizing her lily hand,
which with struggles she suffered him to kiss, he vowed on the
earliest opportunity to get himself knighted, and fervently
entreated her permission to swear himself eternally her
knight.  Ere the Princess could reply, a clap of thunder was
suddenly heard that shook the battlements.  Theodore,
regardless of the tempest, would have urged his suit: but the
Princess, dismayed, retreated hastily into the castle, and
commanded the youth to be gone with an air that would not be
disobeyed.  He sighed, and retired, but with eyes fixed on
the gate, until Matilda, closing it, put an end to an interview,
in which the hearts of both had drunk so deeply of a passion,
which both now tasted for the first time.


Theodore went pensively to the convent, to acquaint his father
with his deliverance.  There he learned the absence of
Jerome, and the pursuit that was making after the Lady Isabella,
with some particulars of whose story he now first became
acquainted.  The generous gallantry of his nature prompted
him to wish to assist her; but the Monks could lend him no lights
to guess at the route she had taken.  He was not tempted to
wander far in search of her, for the idea of Matilda had
imprinted itself so strongly on his heart, that he could not bear
to absent himself at much distance from her abode.  The
tenderness Jerome had expressed for him concurred to confirm this
reluctance; and he even persuaded himself that filial affection
was the chief cause of his hovering between the castle and
monastery.


Until Jerome should return at night, Theodore at length
determined to repair to the forest that Matilda had pointed out
to him.  Arriving there, he sought the gloomiest shades, as
best suited to the pleasing melancholy that reigned in his
mind.  In this mood he roved insensibly to the caves which
had formerly served as a retreat to hermits, and were now
reported round the country to be haunted by evil spirits. 
He recollected to have heard this tradition; and being of a brave
and adventurous disposition, he willingly indulged his curiosity
in exploring the secret recesses of this labyrinth.  He had
not penetrated far before he thought he heard the steps of some
person who seemed to retreat before him.


Theodore, though firmly grounded in all our holy faith enjoins
to be believed, had no apprehension that good men were abandoned
without cause to the malice of the powers of darkness.  He
thought the place more likely to be infested by robbers than by
those infernal agents who are reported to molest and bewilder
travellers.  He had long burned with impatience to approve
his valour.  Drawing his sabre, he marched sedately onwards,
still directing his steps as the imperfect rustling sound before
him led the way.  The armour he wore was a like indication
to the person who avoided him.  Theodore, now convinced that
he was not mistaken, redoubled his pace, and evidently gained on
the person that fled, whose haste increasing, Theodore came up
just as a woman fell breathless before him.  He hasted to
raise her, but her terror was so great that he apprehended she
would faint in his arms.  He used every gentle word to
dispel her alarms, and assured her that far from injuring, he
would defend her at the peril of his life.  The Lady
recovering her spirits from his courteous demeanour, and gazing
on her protector, said—


“Sure, I have heard that voice before!”


“Not to my knowledge,” replied Theodore;
“unless, as I conjecture, thou art the Lady
Isabella.”


“Merciful heaven!” cried she.  “Thou
art not sent in quest of me, art thou?”  And saying
those words, she threw herself at his feet, and besought him not
to deliver her up to Manfred.


“To Manfred!” cried Theodore—“no,
Lady; I have once already delivered thee from his tyranny, and it
shall fare hard with me now, but I will place thee out of the
reach of his daring.”


“Is it possible,” said she, “that thou
shouldst be the generous unknown whom I met last night in the
vault of the castle?  Sure thou art not a mortal, but my
guardian angel.  On my knees, let me thank—”


“Hold! gentle Princess,” said Theodore, “nor
demean thyself before a poor and friendless young man.  If
heaven has selected me for thy deliverer, it will accomplish its
work, and strengthen my arm in thy cause.  But come, Lady,
we are too near the mouth of the cavern; let us seek its inmost
recesses.  I can have no tranquillity till I have placed
thee beyond the reach of danger.”


“Alas! what mean you, sir?” said she. 
“Though all your actions are noble, though your sentiments
speak the purity of your soul, is it fitting that I should
accompany you alone into these perplexed retreats?  Should
we be found together, what would a censorious world think of my
conduct?”


“I respect your virtuous delicacy,” said Theodore;
“nor do you harbour a suspicion that wounds my
honour.  I meant to conduct you into the most private cavity
of these rocks, and then at the hazard of my life to guard their
entrance against every living thing.  Besides, Lady,”
continued he, drawing a deep sigh, “beauteous and all
perfect as your form is, and though my wishes are not guiltless
of aspiring, know, my soul is dedicated to another; and
although—”  A sudden noise prevented Theodore
from proceeding.  They soon distinguished these
sounds—


“Isabella! what, ho! Isabella!”  The
trembling Princess relapsed into her former agony of fear. 
Theodore endeavoured to encourage her, but in vain.  He
assured her he would die rather than suffer her to return under
Manfred’s power; and begging her to remain concealed, he
went forth to prevent the person in search of her from
approaching.


At the mouth of the cavern he found an armed Knight,
discoursing with a peasant, who assured him he had seen a lady
enter the passes of the rock.  The Knight was preparing to
seek her, when Theodore, placing himself in his way, with his
sword drawn, sternly forbad him at his peril to advance.


“And who art thou, who darest to cross my way?”
said the Knight, haughtily.


“One who does not dare more than he will perform,”
said Theodore.


“I seek the Lady Isabella,” said the Knight,
“and understand she has taken refuge among these
rocks.  Impede me not, or thou wilt repent having provoked
my resentment.”


“Thy purpose is as odious as thy resentment is
contemptible,” said Theodore.  “Return whence
thou camest, or we shall soon know whose resentment is most
terrible.”


The stranger, who was the principal Knight that had arrived
from the Marquis of Vicenza, had galloped from Manfred as he was
busied in getting information of the Princess, and giving various
orders to prevent her falling into the power of the three
Knights.  Their chief had suspected Manfred of being privy
to the Princess’s absconding, and this insult from a man,
who he concluded was stationed by that Prince to secrete her,
confirming his suspicions, he made no reply, but discharging a
blow with his sabre at Theodore, would soon have removed all
obstruction, if Theodore, who took him for one of Manfred’s
captains, and who had no sooner given the provocation than
prepared to support it, had not received the stroke on his
shield.  The valour that had so long been smothered in his
breast broke forth at once; he rushed impetuously on the Knight,
whose pride and wrath were not less powerful incentives to hardy
deeds.  The combat was furious, but not long.  Theodore
wounded the Knight in three several places, and at last disarmed
him as he fainted by the loss of blood.


The peasant, who had fled on the first onset, had given the
alarm to some of Manfred’s domestics, who, by his orders,
were dispersed through the forest in pursuit of Isabella. 
They came up as the Knight fell, whom they soon discovered to be
the noble stranger.  Theodore, notwithstanding his hatred to
Manfred, could not behold the victory he had gained without
emotions of pity and generosity.  But he was more touched
when he learned the quality of his adversary, and was informed
that he was no retainer, but an enemy, of Manfred.  He
assisted the servants of the latter in disarming the Knight, and
in endeavouring to stanch the blood that flowed from his
wounds.  The Knight recovering his speech, said, in a faint
and faltering voice—


“Generous foe, we have both been in an error.  I
took thee for an instrument of the tyrant; I perceive thou hast
made the like mistake.  It is too late for excuses.  I
faint.  If Isabella is at hand—call her—I have
important secrets to—”


“He is dying!” said one of the attendants;
“has nobody a crucifix about them?  Andrea, do thou
pray over him.”


“Fetch some water,” said Theodore, “and pour
it down his throat, while I hasten to the Princess.”


Saying this, he flew to Isabella, and in few words told her
modestly that he had been so unfortunate by mistake as to wound a
gentleman from her father’s court, who wished, ere he died,
to impart something of consequence to her.


The Princess, who had been transported at hearing the voice of
Theodore, as he called to her to come forth, was astonished at
what she heard.  Suffering herself to be conducted by
Theodore, the new proof of whose valour recalled her dispersed
spirits, she came where the bleeding Knight lay speechless on the
ground.  But her fears returned when she beheld the
domestics of Manfred.  She would again have fled if Theodore
had not made her observe that they were unarmed, and had not
threatened them with instant death if they should dare to seize
the Princess.


The stranger, opening his eyes, and beholding a woman, said,
“Art thou—pray tell me truly—art thou Isabella
of Vicenza?”


“I am,” said she: “good heaven restore
thee!”


“Then thou—then thou”—said the Knight,
struggling for utterance—“seest—thy
father.  Give me one—”


“Oh! amazement! horror! what do I hear! what do I
see!” cried Isabella.  “My father!  You my
father!  How came you here, Sir?  For heaven’s
sake, speak!  Oh! run for help, or he will
expire!”


“’Tis most true,” said the wounded Knight,
exerting all his force; “I am Frederic thy father. 
Yes, I came to deliver thee.  It will not be.  Give me
a parting kiss, and take—”


“Sir,” said Theodore, “do not exhaust
yourself; suffer us to convey you to the castle.”


“To the castle!” said Isabella.  “Is
there no help nearer than the castle?  Would you expose my
father to the tyrant?  If he goes thither, I dare not
accompany him; and yet, can I leave him!”


“My child,” said Frederic, “it matters not
for me whither I am carried.  A few minutes will place me
beyond danger; but while I have eyes to dote on thee, forsake me
not, dear Isabella!  This brave Knight—I know not who
he is—will protect thy innocence.  Sir, you will not
abandon my child, will you?”


Theodore, shedding tears over his victim, and vowing to guard
the Princess at the expense of his life, persuaded Frederic to
suffer himself to be conducted to the castle.  They placed
him on a horse belonging to one of the domestics, after binding
up his wounds as well as they were able.  Theodore marched
by his side; and the afflicted Isabella, who could not bear to
quit him, followed mournfully behind.


CHAPTER IV.


The sorrowful troop no sooner arrived at the castle, than they
were met by Hippolita and Matilda, whom Isabella had sent one of
the domestics before to advertise of their approach.  The
ladies causing Frederic to be conveyed into the nearest chamber,
retired, while the surgeons examined his wounds.  Matilda
blushed at seeing Theodore and Isabella together; but endeavoured
to conceal it by embracing the latter, and condoling with her on
her father’s mischance.  The surgeons soon came to
acquaint Hippolita that none of the Marquis’s wounds were
dangerous; and that he was desirous of seeing his daughter and
the Princesses.


Theodore, under pretence of expressing his joy at being freed
from his apprehensions of the combat being fatal to Frederic,
could not resist the impulse of following Matilda.  Her eyes
were so often cast down on meeting his, that Isabella, who
regarded Theodore as attentively as he gazed on Matilda, soon
divined who the object was that he had told her in the cave
engaged his affections.  While this mute scene passed,
Hippolita demanded of Frederic the cause of his having taken that
mysterious course for reclaiming his daughter; and threw in
various apologies to excuse her Lord for the match contracted
between their children.


Frederic, however incensed against Manfred, was not insensible
to the courtesy and benevolence of Hippolita: but he was still
more struck with the lovely form of Matilda.  Wishing to
detain them by his bedside, he informed Hippolita of his
story.  He told her that, while prisoner to the infidels, he
had dreamed that his daughter, of whom he had learned no news
since his captivity, was detained in a castle, where she was in
danger of the most dreadful misfortunes: and that if he obtained
his liberty, and repaired to a wood near Joppa, he would learn
more.  Alarmed at this dream, and incapable of obeying the
direction given by it, his chains became more grievous than
ever.  But while his thoughts were occupied on the means of
obtaining his liberty, he received the agreeable news that the
confederate Princes who were warring in Palestine had paid his
ransom.  He instantly set out for the wood that had been
marked in his dream.


For three days he and his attendants had wandered in the
forest without seeing a human form: but on the evening of the
third they came to a cell, in which they found a venerable hermit
in the agonies of death.  Applying rich cordials, they
brought the fainting man to his speech.


“My sons,” said he, “I am bounden to your
charity—but it is in vain—I am going to my eternal
rest—yet I die with the satisfaction of performing the will
of heaven.  When first I repaired to this solitude, after
seeing my country become a prey to unbelievers—it is alas!
above fifty years since I was witness to that dreadful
scene!  St. Nicholas appeared to me, and revealed a secret,
which he bade me never disclose to mortal man, but on my
death-bed.  This is that tremendous hour, and ye are no
doubt the chosen warriors to whom I was ordered to reveal my
trust.  As soon as ye have done the last offices to this
wretched corse, dig under the seventh tree on the left hand of
this poor cave, and your pains will—Oh! good heaven receive
my soul!”  With those words the devout man breathed
his last.


“By break of day,” continued Frederic, “when
we had committed the holy relics to earth, we dug according to
direction.  But what was our astonishment when about the
depth of six feet we discovered an enormous sabre—the very
weapon yonder in the court.  On the blade, which was then
partly out of the scabbard, though since closed by our efforts in
removing it, were written the following lines—no; excuse
me, Madam,” added the Marquis, turning to Hippolita;
“if I forbear to repeat them: I respect your sex and rank,
and would not be guilty of offending your ear with sounds
injurious to aught that is dear to you.”


He paused.  Hippolita trembled.  She did not doubt
but Frederic was destined by heaven to accomplish the fate that
seemed to threaten her house.  Looking with anxious fondness
at Matilda, a silent tear stole down her cheek: but recollecting
herself, she said—


“Proceed, my Lord; heaven does nothing in vain; mortals
must receive its divine behests with lowliness and
submission.  It is our part to deprecate its wrath, or bow
to its decrees.  Repeat the sentence, my Lord; we listen
resigned.”


Frederic was grieved that he had proceeded so far.  The
dignity and patient firmness of Hippolita penetrated him with
respect, and the tender silent affection with which the Princess
and her daughter regarded each other, melted him almost to
tears.  Yet apprehensive that his forbearance to obey would
be more alarming, he repeated in a faltering and low voice the
following lines:


“Where’er a casque that suits this
sword is found,

With perils is thy daughter compass’d round;

Alfonso’s blood alone can save the maid,

And quiet a long restless Prince’s shade.”



“What is there in these lines,” said Theodore
impatiently, “that affects these Princesses?  Why were
they to be shocked by a mysterious delicacy, that has so little
foundation?”


“Your words are rude, young man,” said the
Marquis; “and though fortune has favoured you
once—”


“My honoured Lord,” said Isabella, who resented
Theodore’s warmth, which she perceived was dictated by his
sentiments for Matilda, “discompose not yourself for the
glosing of a peasant’s son: he forgets the reverence he
owes you; but he is not accustomed—”


Hippolita, concerned at the heat that had arisen, checked
Theodore for his boldness, but with an air acknowledging his
zeal; and changing the conversation, demanded of Frederic where
he had left her Lord?  As the Marquis was going to reply,
they heard a noise without, and rising to inquire the cause,
Manfred, Jerome, and part of the troop, who had met an imperfect
rumour of what had happened, entered the chamber.  Manfred
advanced hastily towards Frederic’s bed to condole with him
on his misfortune, and to learn the circumstances of the combat,
when starting in an agony of terror and amazement, he
cried—


“Ha! what art thou? thou dreadful spectre! is my hour
come?”


“My dearest, gracious Lord,” cried Hippolita,
clasping him in her arms, “what is it you see!  Why do
you fix your eye-balls thus?”


“What!” cried Manfred breathless; “dost thou
see nothing, Hippolita?  Is this ghastly phantom sent to me
alone—to rue, who did not—”


“For mercy’s sweetest self, my Lord,” said
Hippolita, “resume your soul, command your reason. 
There is none here, but us, your friends.”


“What, is not that Alfonso?” cried Manfred. 
“Dost thou not see him? can it be my brain’s
delirium?”


“This! my Lord,” said Hippolita; “this is
Theodore, the youth who has been so unfortunate.”


“Theodore!” said Manfred mournfully, and striking
his forehead; “Theodore or a phantom, he has unhinged the
soul of Manfred.  But how comes he here? and how comes he in
armour?”


“I believe he went in search of Isabella,” said
Hippolita.


“Of Isabella!” said Manfred, relapsing into rage;
“yes, yes, that is not doubtful—.  But how did
he escape from durance in which I left him?  Was it
Isabella, or this hypocritical old Friar, that procured his
enlargement?”


“And would a parent be criminal, my Lord,” said
Theodore, “if he meditated the deliverance of his
child?”


Jerome, amazed to hear himself in a manner accused by his son,
and without foundation, knew not what to think.  He could
not comprehend how Theodore had escaped, how he came to be armed,
and to encounter Frederic.  Still he would not venture to
ask any questions that might tend to inflame Manfred’s
wrath against his son.  Jerome’s silence convinced
Manfred that he had contrived Theodore’s release.


“And is it thus, thou ungrateful old man,” said
the Prince, addressing himself to the Friar, “that thou
repayest mine and Hippolita’s bounties?  And not
content with traversing my heart’s nearest wishes, thou
armest thy bastard, and bringest him into my own castle to insult
me!”


“My Lord,” said Theodore, “you wrong my
father: neither he nor I are capable of harbouring a thought
against your peace.  Is it insolence thus to surrender
myself to your Highness’s pleasure?” added he, laying
his sword respectfully at Manfred’s feet. 
“Behold my bosom; strike, my Lord, if you suspect that a
disloyal thought is lodged there.  There is not a sentiment
engraven on my heart that does not venerate you and
yours.”


The grace and fervour with which Theodore uttered these words
interested every person present in his favour.  Even Manfred
was touched—yet still possessed with his resemblance to
Alfonso, his admiration was dashed with secret horror.


“Rise,” said he; “thy life is not my present
purpose.  But tell me thy history, and how thou camest
connected with this old traitor here.”


“My Lord,” said Jerome eagerly.


“Peace! impostor!” said Manfred; “I will not
have him prompted.”


“My Lord,” said Theodore, “I want no
assistance; my story is very brief.  I was carried at five
years of age to Algiers with my mother, who had been taken by
corsairs from the coast of Sicily.  She died of grief in
less than a twelvemonth;” the tears gushed from
Jerome’s eyes, on whose countenance a thousand anxious
passions stood expressed.  “Before she died,”
continued Theodore, “she bound a writing about my arm under
my garments, which told me I was the son of the Count
Falconara.”


“It is most true,” said Jerome; “I am that
wretched father.”


“Again I enjoin thee silence,” said Manfred:
“proceed.”


“I remained in slavery,” said Theodore,
“until within these two years, when attending on my master
in his cruises, I was delivered by a Christian vessel, which
overpowered the pirate; and discovering myself to the captain, he
generously put me on shore in Sicily; but alas! instead of
finding a father, I learned that his estate, which was situated
on the coast, had, during his absence, been laid waste by the
Rover who had carried my mother and me into captivity: that his
castle had been burnt to the ground, and that my father on his
return had sold what remained, and was retired into religion in
the kingdom of Naples, but where no man could inform me. 
Destitute and friendless, hopeless almost of attaining the
transport of a parent’s embrace, I took the first
opportunity of setting sail for Naples, from whence, within these
six days, I wandered into this province, still supporting myself
by the labour of my hands; nor until yester-morn did I believe
that heaven had reserved any lot for me but peace of mind and
contented poverty.  This, my Lord, is Theodore’s
story.  I am blessed beyond my hope in finding a father; I
am unfortunate beyond my desert in having incurred your
Highness’s displeasure.”


He ceased.  A murmur of approbation gently arose from the
audience.


“This is not all,” said Frederic; “I am
bound in honour to add what he suppresses.  Though he is
modest, I must be generous; he is one of the bravest youths on
Christian ground.  He is warm too; and from the short
knowledge I have of him, I will pledge myself for his veracity:
if what he reports of himself were not true, he would not utter
it—and for me, youth, I honour a frankness which becomes
thy birth; but now, and thou didst offend me: yet the noble blood
which flows in thy veins, may well be allowed to boil out, when
it has so recently traced itself to its source.  Come, my
Lord,” (turning to Manfred), “if I can pardon him,
surely you may; it is not the youth’s fault, if you took
him for a spectre.”


This bitter taunt galled the soul of Manfred.


“If beings from another world,” replied he
haughtily, “have power to impress my mind with awe, it is
more than living man can do; nor could a stripling’s
arm.”


“My Lord,” interrupted Hippolita, “your
guest has occasion for repose: shall we not leave him to his
rest?”  Saying this, and taking Manfred by the hand,
she took leave of Frederic, and led the company forth.


The Prince, not sorry to quit a conversation which recalled to
mind the discovery he had made of his most secret sensations,
suffered himself to be conducted to his own apartment, after
permitting Theodore, though under engagement to return to the
castle on the morrow (a condition the young man gladly accepted),
to retire with his father to the convent.  Matilda and
Isabella were too much occupied with their own reflections, and
too little content with each other, to wish for farther converse
that night.  They separated each to her chamber, with more
expressions of ceremony and fewer of affection than had passed
between them since their childhood.


If they parted with small cordiality, they did but meet with
greater impatience, as soon as the sun was risen.  Their
minds were in a situation that excluded sleep, and each
recollected a thousand questions which she wished she had put to
the other overnight.  Matilda reflected that Isabella had
been twice delivered by Theodore in very critical situations,
which she could not believe accidental.  His eyes, it was
true, had been fixed on her in Frederic’s chamber; but that
might have been to disguise his passion for Isabella from the
fathers of both.  It were better to clear this up.  She
wished to know the truth, lest she should wrong her friend by
entertaining a passion for Isabella’s lover.  Thus
jealousy prompted, and at the same time borrowed an excuse from
friendship to justify its curiosity.


Isabella, not less restless, had better foundation for her
suspicions.  Both Theodore’s tongue and eyes had told
her his heart was engaged; it was true—yet, perhaps,
Matilda might not correspond to his passion; she had ever
appeared insensible to love: all her thoughts were set on
heaven.


“Why did I dissuade her?” said Isabella to
herself; “I am punished for my generosity; but when did
they meet? where?  It cannot be; I have deceived myself;
perhaps last night was the first time they ever beheld each
other; it must be some other object that has prepossessed his
affections—if it is, I am not so unhappy as I thought; if
it is not my friend Matilda—how!  Can I stoop to wish
for the affection of a man, who rudely and unnecessarily
acquainted me with his indifference? and that at the very moment
in which common courtesy demanded at least expressions of
civility.  I will go to my dear Matilda, who will confirm me
in this becoming pride.  Man is false—I will advise
with her on taking the veil: she will rejoice to find me in this
disposition; and I will acquaint her that I no longer oppose her
inclination for the cloister.”


In this frame of mind, and determined to open her heart
entirely to Matilda, she went to that Princess’s chamber,
whom she found already dressed, and leaning pensively on her
arm.  This attitude, so correspondent to what she felt
herself, revived Isabella’s suspicions, and destroyed the
confidence she had purposed to place in her friend.  They
blushed at meeting, and were too much novices to disguise their
sensations with address.  After some unmeaning questions and
replies, Matilda demanded of Isabella the cause of her
flight?  The latter, who had almost forgotten
Manfred’s passion, so entirely was she occupied by her own,
concluding that Matilda referred to her last escape from the
convent, which had occasioned the events of the preceding
evening, replied—


“Martelli brought word to the convent that your mother
was dead.”


“Oh!” said Matilda, interrupting her,
“Bianca has explained that mistake to me: on seeing me
faint, she cried out, ‘The Princess is dead!’ and
Martelli, who had come for the usual dole to the
castle—”


“And what made you faint?” said Isabella,
indifferent to the rest.  Matilda blushed and
stammered—


“My father—he was sitting in judgment on a
criminal—”


“What criminal?” said Isabella eagerly.


“A young man,” said Matilda; “I
believe—”


“I think it was that young man that—”


“What, Theodore?” said Isabella.


“Yes,” answered she; “I never saw him
before; I do not know how he had offended my father, but as he
has been of service to you, I am glad my Lord has pardoned
him.”


“Served me!” replied Isabella; “do you term
it serving me, to wound my father, and almost occasion his
death?  Though it is but since yesterday that I am blessed
with knowing a parent, I hope Matilda does not think I am such a
stranger to filial tenderness as not to resent the boldness of
that audacious youth, and that it is impossible for me ever to
feel any affection for one who dared to lift his arm against the
author of my being.  No, Matilda, my heart abhors him; and
if you still retain the friendship for me that you have vowed
from your infancy, you will detest a man who has been on the
point of making me miserable for ever.”


Matilda held down her head and replied: “I hope my
dearest Isabella does not doubt her Matilda’s friendship: I
never beheld that youth until yesterday; he is almost a stranger
to me: but as the surgeons have pronounced your father out of
danger, you ought not to harbour uncharitable resentment against
one, who I am persuaded did not know the Marquis was related to
you.”


“You plead his cause very pathetically,” said
Isabella, “considering he is so much a stranger to
you!  I am mistaken, or he returns your charity.”


“What mean you?” said Matilda.


“Nothing,” said Isabella, repenting that she had
given Matilda a hint of Theodore’s inclination for
her.  Then changing the discourse, she asked Matilda what
occasioned Manfred to take Theodore for a spectre?


“Bless me,” said Matilda, “did not you
observe his extreme resemblance to the portrait of Alfonso in the
gallery?  I took notice of it to Bianca even before I saw
him in armour; but with the helmet on, he is the very image of
that picture.”


“I do not much observe pictures,” said Isabella:
“much less have I examined this young man so attentively as
you seem to have done.  Ah?  Matilda, your heart is in
danger, but let me warn you as a friend, he has owned to me that
he is in love; it cannot be with you, for yesterday was the first
time you ever met—was it not?”


“Certainly,” replied Matilda; “but why does
my dearest Isabella conclude from anything I have said,
that”—she paused—then continuing: “he saw
you first, and I am far from having the vanity to think that my
little portion of charms could engage a heart devoted to you; may
you be happy, Isabella, whatever is the fate of
Matilda!”


“My lovely friend,” said Isabella, whose heart was
too honest to resist a kind expression, “it is you that
Theodore admires; I saw it; I am persuaded of it; nor shall a
thought of my own happiness suffer me to interfere with
yours.”


This frankness drew tears from the gentle Matilda; and
jealousy that for a moment had raised a coolness between these
amiable maidens soon gave way to the natural sincerity and
candour of their souls.  Each confessed to the other the
impression that Theodore had made on her; and this confidence was
followed by a struggle of generosity, each insisting on yielding
her claim to her friend.  At length the dignity of
Isabella’s virtue reminding her of the preference which
Theodore had almost declared for her rival, made her determine to
conquer her passion, and cede the beloved object to her
friend.


During this contest of amity, Hippolita entered her
daughter’s chamber.


“Madam,” said she to Isabella, “you have so
much tenderness for Matilda, and interest yourself so kindly in
whatever affects our wretched house, that I can have no secrets
with my child which are not proper for you to hear.”


The princesses were all attention and anxiety.


“Know then, Madam,” continued Hippolita,
“and you my dearest Matilda, that being convinced by all
the events of these two last ominous days, that heaven purposes
the sceptre of Otranto should pass from Manfred’s hands
into those of the Marquis Frederic, I have been perhaps inspired
with the thought of averting our total destruction by the union
of our rival houses.  With this view I have been proposing
to Manfred, my lord, to tender this dear, dear child to Frederic,
your father.”


“Me to Lord Frederic!” cried Matilda; “good
heavens! my gracious mother—and have you named it to my
father?”


“I have,” said Hippolita; “he listened
benignly to my proposal, and is gone to break it to the
Marquis.”


“Ah! wretched princess!” cried Isabella;
“what hast thou done! what ruin has thy inadvertent
goodness been preparing for thyself, for me, and for
Matilda!”


“Ruin from me to you and to my child!” said
Hippolita “what can this mean?”


“Alas!” said Isabella, “the purity of your
own heart prevents your seeing the depravity of others. 
Manfred, your lord, that impious man—”


“Hold,” said Hippolita; “you must not in my
presence, young lady, mention Manfred with disrespect: he is my
lord and husband, and—”


“Will not long be so,” said Isabella, “if
his wicked purposes can be carried into execution.”


“This language amazes me,” said Hippolita. 
“Your feeling, Isabella, is warm; but until this hour I
never knew it betray you into intemperance.  What deed of
Manfred authorises you to treat him as a murderer, an
assassin?”


“Thou virtuous, and too credulous Princess!”
replied Isabella; “it is not thy life he aims at—it
is to separate himself from thee! to divorce thee!
to—”


“To divorce me!”  “To divorce my
mother!” cried Hippolita and Matilda at once.


“Yes,” said Isabella; “and to complete his
crime, he meditates—I cannot speak it!”


“What can surpass what thou hast already uttered?”
said Matilda.


Hippolita was silent.  Grief choked her speech; and the
recollection of Manfred’s late ambiguous discourses
confirmed what she heard.


“Excellent, dear lady! madam! mother!” cried
Isabella, flinging herself at Hippolita’s feet in a
transport of passion; “trust me, believe me, I will die a
thousand deaths sooner than consent to injure you, than yield to
so odious—oh!—”


“This is too much!” cried Hippolita: “What
crimes does one crime suggest!  Rise, dear Isabella; I do
not doubt your virtue.  Oh! Matilda, this stroke is too
heavy for thee! weep not, my child; and not a murmur, I charge
thee.  Remember, he is thy father still!”


“But you are my mother too,” said Matilda
fervently; “and you are virtuous, you are
guiltless!—Oh! must not I, must not I complain?”


“You must not,” said Hippolita—“come,
all will yet be well.  Manfred, in the agony for the loss of
thy brother, knew not what he said; perhaps Isabella
misunderstood him; his heart is good—and, my child, thou
knowest not all!  There is a destiny hangs over us; the hand
of Providence is stretched out; oh! could I but save thee from
the wreck!  Yes,” continued she in a firmer tone,
“perhaps the sacrifice of myself may atone for all; I will
go and offer myself to this divorce—it boots not what
becomes of me.  I will withdraw into the neighbouring
monastery, and waste the remainder of life in prayers and tears
for my child and—the Prince!”


“Thou art as much too good for this world,” said
Isabella, “as Manfred is execrable; but think not, lady,
that thy weakness shall determine for me.  I swear, hear me
all ye angels—”


“Stop, I adjure thee,” cried Hippolita:
“remember thou dost not depend on thyself; thou hast a
father.”


“My father is too pious, too noble,” interrupted
Isabella, “to command an impious deed.  But should he
command it; can a father enjoin a cursed act?  I was
contracted to the son, can I wed the father?  No, madam, no;
force should not drag me to Manfred’s hated bed.  I
loathe him, I abhor him: divine and human laws forbid—and
my friend, my dearest Matilda! would I wound her tender soul by
injuring her adored mother? my own mother—I never have
known another”—


“Oh! she is the mother of both!” cried Matilda:
“can we, can we, Isabella, adore her too much?”


“My lovely children,” said the touched Hippolita,
“your tenderness overpowers me—but I must not give
way to it.  It is not ours to make election for ourselves:
heaven, our fathers, and our husbands must decide for us. 
Have patience until you hear what Manfred and Frederic have
determined.  If the Marquis accepts Matilda’s hand, I
know she will readily obey.  Heaven may interpose and
prevent the rest.  What means my child?” continued
she, seeing Matilda fall at her feet with a flood of speechless
tears—“But no; answer me not, my daughter: I must not
hear a word against the pleasure of thy father.”


“Oh! doubt not my obedience, my dreadful obedience to
him and to you!” said Matilda.  “But can I, most
respected of women, can I experience all this tenderness, this
world of goodness, and conceal a thought from the best of
mothers?”


“What art thou going to utter?” said Isabella
trembling.  “Recollect thyself, Matilda.”


“No, Isabella,” said the Princess, “I should
not deserve this incomparable parent, if the inmost recesses of
my soul harboured a thought without her permission—nay, I
have offended her; I have suffered a passion to enter my heart
without her avowal—but here I disclaim it; here I vow to
heaven and her—”


“My child! my child;” said Hippolita, “what
words are these! what new calamities has fate in store for
us!  Thou, a passion?  Thou, in this hour of
destruction—”


“Oh! I see all my guilt!” said Matilda. 
“I abhor myself, if I cost my mother a pang.  She is
the dearest thing I have on earth—Oh! I will never, never
behold him more!”


“Isabella,” said Hippolita, “thou art
conscious to this unhappy secret, whatever it is. 
Speak!”


“What!” cried Matilda, “have I so forfeited
my mother’s love, that she will not permit me even to speak
my own guilt? oh! wretched, wretched Matilda!”


“Thou art too cruel,” said Isabella to Hippolita:
“canst thou behold this anguish of a virtuous mind, and not
commiserate it?”


“Not pity my child!” said Hippolita, catching
Matilda in her arms—“Oh! I know she is good, she is
all virtue, all tenderness, and duty.  I do forgive thee, my
excellent, my only hope!”


The princesses then revealed to Hippolita their mutual
inclination for Theodore, and the purpose of Isabella to resign
him to Matilda.  Hippolita blamed their imprudence, and
showed them the improbability that either father would consent to
bestow his heiress on so poor a man, though nobly born. 
Some comfort it gave her to find their passion of so recent a
date, and that Theodore had had but little cause to suspect it in
either.  She strictly enjoined them to avoid all
correspondence with him.  This Matilda fervently promised:
but Isabella, who flattered herself that she meant no more than
to promote his union with her friend, could not determine to
avoid him; and made no reply.


“I will go to the convent,” said Hippolita,
“and order new masses to be said for a deliverance from
these calamities.”


“Oh! my mother,” said Matilda, “you mean to
quit us: you mean to take sanctuary, and to give my father an
opportunity of pursuing his fatal intention.  Alas! on my
knees I supplicate you to forbear; will you leave me a prey to
Frederic?  I will follow you to the convent.”


“Be at peace, my child,” said Hippolita: “I
will return instantly.  I will never abandon thee, until I
know it is the will of heaven, and for thy benefit.”


“Do not deceive me,” said Matilda.  “I
will not marry Frederic until thou commandest it.  Alas!
what will become of me?”


“Why that exclamation?” said Hippolita. 
“I have promised thee to return—”


“Ah! my mother,” replied Matilda, “stay and
save me from myself.  A frown from thee can do more than all
my father’s severity.  I have given away my heart, and
you alone can make me recall it.”


“No more,” said Hippolita; “thou must not
relapse, Matilda.”


“I can quit Theodore,” said she, “but must I
wed another? let me attend thee to the altar, and shut myself
from the world for ever.”


“Thy fate depends on thy father,” said Hippolita;
“I have ill-bestowed my tenderness, if it has taught thee
to revere aught beyond him.  Adieu! my child: I go to pray
for thee.”


Hippolita’s real purpose was to demand of Jerome,
whether in conscience she might not consent to the divorce. 
She had oft urged Manfred to resign the principality, which the
delicacy of her conscience rendered an hourly burthen to
her.  These scruples concurred to make the separation from
her husband appear less dreadful to her than it would have seemed
in any other situation.


Jerome, at quitting the castle overnight, had questioned
Theodore severely why he had accused him to Manfred of being
privy to his escape.  Theodore owned it had been with design
to prevent Manfred’s suspicion from alighting on Matilda;
and added, the holiness of Jerome’s life and character
secured him from the tyrant’s wrath.  Jerome was
heartily grieved to discover his son’s inclination for that
princess; and leaving him to his rest, promised in the morning to
acquaint him with important reasons for conquering his
passion.


Theodore, like Isabella, was too recently acquainted with
parental authority to submit to its decisions against the impulse
of his heart.  He had little curiosity to learn the
Friar’s reasons, and less disposition to obey them. 
The lovely Matilda had made stronger impressions on him than
filial affection.  All night he pleased himself with visions
of love; and it was not till late after the morning-office, that
he recollected the Friar’s commands to attend him at
Alfonso’s tomb.


“Young man,” said Jerome, when he saw him,
“this tardiness does not please me.  Have a
father’s commands already so little weight?”


Theodore made awkward excuses, and attributed his delay to
having overslept himself.


“And on whom were thy dreams employed?” said the
Friar sternly.  His son blushed.  “Come,
come,” resumed the Friar, “inconsiderate youth, this
must not be; eradicate this guilty passion from thy
breast—”


“Guilty passion!” cried Theodore: “Can guilt
dwell with innocent beauty and virtuous modesty?”


“It is sinful,” replied the Friar, “to
cherish those whom heaven has doomed to destruction.  A
tyrant’s race must be swept from the earth to the third and
fourth generation.”


“Will heaven visit the innocent for the crimes of the
guilty?” said Theodore.  “The fair Matilda has
virtues enough—”


“To undo thee:” interrupted Jerome. 
“Hast thou so soon forgotten that twice the savage Manfred
has pronounced thy sentence?”


“Nor have I forgotten, sir,” said Theodore,
“that the charity of his daughter delivered me from his
power.  I can forget injuries, but never
benefits.”


“The injuries thou hast received from Manfred’s
race,” said the Friar, “are beyond what thou canst
conceive.  Reply not, but view this holy image! 
Beneath this marble monument rest the ashes of the good Alfonso;
a prince adorned with every virtue: the father of his people! the
delight of mankind!  Kneel, headstrong boy, and list, while
a father unfolds a tale of horror that will expel every sentiment
from thy soul, but sensations of sacred vengeance—Alfonso!
much injured prince! let thy unsatisfied shade sit awful on the
troubled air, while these trembling lips—Ha! who comes
there?—”


“The most wretched of women!” said Hippolita,
entering the choir.  “Good Father, art thou at
leisure?—but why this kneeling youth? what means the horror
imprinted on each countenance? why at this venerable
tomb—alas! hast thou seen aught?”


“We were pouring forth our orisons to heaven,”
replied the Friar, with some confusion, “to put an end to
the woes of this deplorable province.  Join with us, Lady!
thy spotless soul may obtain an exemption from the judgments
which the portents of these days but too speakingly denounce
against thy house.”


“I pray fervently to heaven to divert them,” said
the pious Princess.  “Thou knowest it has been the
occupation of my life to wrest a blessing for my Lord and my
harmless children.—One alas! is taken from me! would heaven
but hear me for my poor Matilda!  Father! intercede for
her!”


“Every heart will bless her,” cried Theodore with
rapture.


“Be dumb, rash youth!” said Jerome. 
“And thou, fond Princess, contend not with the Powers
above! the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away: bless His holy
name, and submit to his decrees.”


“I do most devoutly,” said Hippolita; “but
will He not spare my only comfort? must Matilda perish
too?—ah!  Father, I came—but dismiss thy
son.  No ear but thine must hear what I have to
utter.”


“May heaven grant thy every wish, most excellent
Princess!” said Theodore retiring.  Jerome
frowned.


Hippolita then acquainted the Friar with the proposal she had
suggested to Manfred, his approbation of it, and the tender of
Matilda that he was gone to make to Frederic.  Jerome could
not conceal his dislike of the notion, which he covered under
pretence of the improbability that Frederic, the nearest of blood
to Alfonso, and who was come to claim his succession, would yield
to an alliance with the usurper of his right.  But nothing
could equal the perplexity of the Friar, when Hippolita confessed
her readiness not to oppose the separation, and demanded his
opinion on the legality of her acquiescence.  The Friar
caught eagerly at her request of his advice, and without
explaining his aversion to the proposed marriage of Manfred and
Isabella, he painted to Hippolita in the most alarming colours
the sinfulness of her consent, denounced judgments against her if
she complied, and enjoined her in the severest terms to treat any
such proposition with every mark of indignation and refusal.


Manfred, in the meantime, had broken his purpose to Frederic,
and proposed the double marriage.  That weak Prince, who had
been struck with the charms of Matilda, listened but too eagerly
to the offer.  He forgot his enmity to Manfred, whom he saw
but little hope of dispossessing by force; and flattering himself
that no issue might succeed from the union of his daughter with
the tyrant, he looked upon his own succession to the principality
as facilitated by wedding Matilda.  He made faint opposition
to the proposal; affecting, for form only, not to acquiesce
unless Hippolita should consent to the divorce.  Manfred
took that upon himself.


Transported with his success, and impatient to see himself in
a situation to expect sons, he hastened to his wife’s
apartment, determined to extort her compliance.  He learned
with indignation that she was absent at the convent.  His
guilt suggested to him that she had probably been informed by
Isabella of his purpose.  He doubted whether her retirement
to the convent did not import an intention of remaining there,
until she could raise obstacles to their divorce; and the
suspicions he had already entertained of Jerome, made him
apprehend that the Friar would not only traverse his views, but
might have inspired Hippolita with the resolution of talking
sanctuary.  Impatient to unravel this clue, and to defeat
its success, Manfred hastened to the convent, and arrived there
as the Friar was earnestly exhorting the Princess never to yield
to the divorce.


“Madam,” said Manfred, “what business drew
you hither? why did you not await my return from the
Marquis?”


“I came to implore a blessing on your councils,”
replied Hippolita.


“My councils do not need a Friar’s
intervention,” said Manfred; “and of all men living
is that hoary traitor the only one whom you delight to confer
with?”


“Profane Prince!” said Jerome; “is it at the
altar that thou choosest to insult the servants of the
altar?—but, Manfred, thy impious schemes are known. 
Heaven and this virtuous lady know them—nay, frown not,
Prince.  The Church despises thy menaces.  Her thunders
will be heard above thy wrath.  Dare to proceed in thy
cursed purpose of a divorce, until her sentence be known, and
here I lance her anathema at thy head.”


“Audacious rebel!” said Manfred, endeavouring to
conceal the awe with which the Friar’s words inspired
him.  “Dost thou presume to threaten thy lawful
Prince?”


“Thou art no lawful Prince,” said Jerome;
“thou art no Prince—go, discuss thy claim with
Frederic; and when that is done—”


“It is done,” replied Manfred; “Frederic
accepts Matilda’s hand, and is content to waive his claim,
unless I have no male issue”—as he spoke those words
three drops of blood fell from the nose of Alfonso’s
statue.  Manfred turned pale, and the Princess sank on her
knees.


“Behold!” said the Friar; “mark this
miraculous indication that the blood of Alfonso will never mix
with that of Manfred!”


“My gracious Lord,” said Hippolita, “let us
submit ourselves to heaven.  Think not thy ever obedient
wife rebels against thy authority.  I have no will but that
of my Lord and the Church.  To that revered tribunal let us
appeal.  It does not depend on us to burst the bonds that
unite us.  If the Church shall approve the dissolution of
our marriage, be it so—I have but few years, and those of
sorrow, to pass.  Where can they be worn away so well as at
the foot of this altar, in prayers for thine and Matilda’s
safety?”


“But thou shalt not remain here until then,” said
Manfred.  “Repair with me to the castle, and there I
will advise on the proper measures for a divorce;—but this
meddling Friar comes not thither; my hospitable roof shall never
more harbour a traitor—and for thy Reverence’s
offspring,” continued he, “I banish him from my
dominions.  He, I ween, is no sacred personage, nor under
the protection of the Church.  Whoever weds Isabella, it
shall not be Father Falconara’s started-up son.”


“They start up,” said the Friar, “who are
suddenly beheld in the seat of lawful Princes; but they wither
away like the grass, and their place knows them no
more.”


Manfred, casting a look of scorn at the Friar, led Hippolita
forth; but at the door of the church whispered one of his
attendants to remain concealed about the convent, and bring him
instant notice, if any one from the castle should repair
thither.


CHAPTER V.


Every reflection which Manfred made on the Friar’s
behaviour, conspired to persuade him that Jerome was privy to an
amour between Isabella and Theodore.  But Jerome’s new
presumption, so dissonant from his former meekness, suggested
still deeper apprehensions.  The Prince even suspected that
the Friar depended on some secret support from Frederic, whose
arrival, coinciding with the novel appearance of Theodore, seemed
to bespeak a correspondence.  Still more was he troubled
with the resemblance of Theodore to Alfonso’s
portrait.  The latter he knew had unquestionably died
without issue.  Frederic had consented to bestow Isabella on
him.  These contradictions agitated his mind with numberless
pangs.


He saw but two methods of extricating himself from his
difficulties.  The one was to resign his dominions to the
Marquis—pride, ambition, and his reliance on ancient
prophecies, which had pointed out a possibility of his preserving
them to his posterity, combated that thought.  The other was
to press his marriage with Isabella.  After long ruminating
on these anxious thoughts, as he marched silently with Hippolita
to the castle, he at last discoursed with that Princess on the
subject of his disquiet, and used every insinuating and plausible
argument to extract her consent to, even her promise of promoting
the divorce.  Hippolita needed little persuasions to bend
her to his pleasure.  She endeavoured to win him over to the
measure of resigning his dominions; but finding her exhortations
fruitless, she assured him, that as far as her conscience would
allow, she would raise no opposition to a separation, though
without better founded scruples than what he yet alleged, she
would not engage to be active in demanding it.


This compliance, though inadequate, was sufficient to raise
Manfred’s hopes.  He trusted that his power and wealth
would easily advance his suit at the court of Rome, whither he
resolved to engage Frederic to take a journey on purpose. 
That Prince had discovered so much passion for Matilda, that
Manfred hoped to obtain all he wished by holding out or
withdrawing his daughter’s charms, according as the Marquis
should appear more or less disposed to co-operate in his
views.  Even the absence of Frederic would be a material
point gained, until he could take further measures for his
security.


Dismissing Hippolita to her apartment, he repaired to that of
the Marquis; but crossing the great hall through which he was to
pass he met Bianca.  The damsel he knew was in the
confidence of both the young ladies.  It immediately
occurred to him to sift her on the subject of Isabella and
Theodore.  Calling her aside into the recess of the oriel
window of the hall, and soothing her with many fair words and
promises, he demanded of her whether she knew aught of the state
of Isabella’s affections.


“I! my Lord! no my Lord—yes my Lord—poor
Lady! she is wonderfully alarmed about her father’s wounds;
but I tell her he will do well; don’t your Highness think
so?”


“I do not ask you,” replied Manfred, “what
she thinks about her father; but you are in her secrets. 
Come, be a good girl and tell me; is there any young
man—ha!—you understand me.”


“Lord bless me! understand your Highness? no, not
I.  I told her a few vulnerary herbs and
repose—”


“I am not talking,” replied the Prince,
impatiently, “about her father; I know he will do
well.”


“Bless me, I rejoice to hear your Highness say so; for
though I thought it not right to let my young Lady despond,
methought his greatness had a wan look, and a something—I
remember when young Ferdinand was wounded by the
Venetian—”


“Thou answerest from the point,” interrupted
Manfred; “but here, take this jewel, perhaps that may fix
thy attention—nay, no reverences; my favour shall not stop
here—come, tell me truly; how stands Isabella’s
heart?”


“Well! your Highness has such a way!” said Bianca,
“to be sure—but can your Highness keep a secret? if
it should ever come out of your lips—”


“It shall not, it shall not,” cried Manfred.


“Nay, but swear, your Highness.”


“By my halidame, if it should ever be known that I said
it—”


“Why, truth is truth, I do not think my Lady Isabella
ever much affectioned my young Lord your son; yet he was a sweet
youth as one should see; I am sure, if I had been a
Princess—but bless me!  I must attend my Lady Matilda;
she will marvel what is become of me.”


“Stay,” cried Manfred; “thou hast not
satisfied my question.  Hast thou ever carried any message,
any letter?”


“I! good gracious!” cried Bianca; “I carry a
letter?  I would not to be a Queen.  I hope your
Highness thinks, though I am poor, I am honest.  Did your
Highness never hear what Count Marsigli offered me, when he came
a wooing to my Lady Matilda?”


“I have not leisure,” said Manfred, “to
listen to thy tale.  I do not question thy honesty. 
But it is thy duty to conceal nothing from me.  How long has
Isabella been acquainted with Theodore?”


“Nay, there is nothing can escape your Highness!”
said Bianca; “not that I know any thing of the
matter.  Theodore, to be sure, is a proper young man, and,
as my Lady Matilda says, the very image of good Alfonso. 
Has not your Highness remarked it?”


“Yes, yes,—No—thou torturest me,” said
Manfred.  “Where did they meet? when?”


“Who! my Lady Matilda?” said Bianca.


“No, no, not Matilda: Isabella; when did Isabella first
become acquainted with this Theodore!”


“Virgin Mary!” said Bianca, “how should I
know?”


“Thou dost know,” said Manfred; “and I must
know; I will—”


“Lord! your Highness is not jealous of young
Theodore!” said Bianca.


“Jealous! no, no.  Why should I be jealous? perhaps
I mean to unite them—If I were sure Isabella would have no
repugnance.”


“Repugnance! no, I’ll warrant her,” said
Bianca; “he is as comely a youth as ever trod on Christian
ground.  We are all in love with him; there is not a soul in
the castle but would be rejoiced to have him for our
Prince—I mean, when it shall please heaven to call your
Highness to itself.”


“Indeed!” said Manfred, “has it gone so far!
oh! this cursed Friar!—but I must not lose time—go,
Bianca, attend Isabella; but I charge thee, not a word of what
has passed.  Find out how she is affected towards Theodore;
bring me good news, and that ring has a companion.  Wait at
the foot of the winding staircase: I am going to visit the
Marquis, and will talk further with thee at my return.”


Manfred, after some general conversation, desired Frederic to
dismiss the two Knights, his companions, having to talk with him
on urgent affairs.


As soon as they were alone, he began in artful guise to sound
the Marquis on the subject of Matilda; and finding him disposed
to his wish, he let drop hints on the difficulties that would
attend the celebration of their marriage, unless—At that
instant Bianca burst into the room with a wildness in her look
and gestures that spoke the utmost terror.


“Oh! my Lord, my Lord!” cried she; “we are
all undone! it is come again! it is come again!”


“What is come again?” cried Manfred amazed.


“Oh! the hand! the Giant! the hand!—support me! I
am terrified out of my senses,” cried Bianca. 
“I will not sleep in the castle to-night.  Where shall
I go? my things may come after me to-morrow—would I had
been content to wed Francesco! this comes of ambition!”


“What has terrified thee thus, young woman?” said
the Marquis.  “Thou art safe here; be not
alarmed.”


“Oh! your Greatness is wonderfully good,” said
Bianca, “but I dare not—no, pray let me go—I
had rather leave everything behind me, than stay another hour
under this roof.”


“Go to, thou hast lost thy senses,” said
Manfred.  “Interrupt us not; we were communing on
important matters—My Lord, this wench is subject to
fits—Come with me, Bianca.”


“Oh! the Saints!  No,” said Bianca,
“for certain it comes to warn your Highness; why should it
appear to me else?  I say my prayers morning and
evening—oh! if your Highness had believed Diego! 
’Tis the same hand that he saw the foot to in the
gallery-chamber—Father Jerome has often told us the
prophecy would be out one of these
days—‘Bianca,’ said he, ‘mark my
words—’”


“Thou ravest,” said Manfred, in a rage; “be
gone, and keep these fooleries to frighten thy
companions.”


“What! my Lord,” cried Bianca, “do you think
I have seen nothing? go to the foot of the great stairs
yourself—as I live I saw it.”


“Saw what? tell us, fair maid, what thou hast
seen,” said Frederic.


“Can your Highness listen,” said Manfred,
“to the delirium of a silly wench, who has heard stories of
apparitions until she believes them?”


“This is more than fancy,” said the Marquis;
“her terror is too natural and too strongly impressed to be
the work of imagination.  Tell us, fair maiden, what it is
has moved thee thus?”


“Yes, my Lord, thank your Greatness,” said Bianca;
“I believe I look very pale; I shall be better when I have
recovered myself—I was going to my Lady Isabella’s
chamber, by his Highness’s order—”


“We do not want the circumstances,” interrupted
Manfred.  “Since his Highness will have it so,
proceed; but be brief.”


“Lord! your Highness thwarts one so!” replied
Bianca; “I fear my hair—I am sure I never in my
life—well! as I was telling your Greatness, I was going by
his Highness’s order to my Lady Isabella’s chamber;
she lies in the watchet-coloured chamber, on the right hand, one
pair of stairs: so when I came to the great stairs—I was
looking on his Highness’s present here—”


“Grant me patience!” said Manfred, “will
this wench never come to the point? what imports it to the
Marquis, that I gave thee a bauble for thy faithful attendance on
my daughter? we want to know what thou sawest.”


“I was going to tell your Highness,” said Bianca,
“if you would permit me.  So as I was rubbing the
ring—I am sure I had not gone up three steps, but I heard
the rattling of armour; for all the world such a clatter as Diego
says he heard when the Giant turned him about in the
gallery-chamber.”


“What Giant is this, my Lord?” said the Marquis;
“is your castle haunted by giants and goblins?”


“Lord! what, has not your Greatness heard the story of
the Giant in the gallery-chamber?” cried Bianca. 
“I marvel his Highness has not told you; mayhap you do not
know there is a prophecy—”


“This trifling is intolerable,” interrupted
Manfred.  “Let us dismiss this silly wench, my Lord!
we have more important affairs to discuss.”


“By your favour,” said Frederic, “these are
no trifles.  The enormous sabre I was directed to in the
wood, yon casque, its fellow—are these visions of this poor
maiden’s brain?”


“So Jaquez thinks, may it please your Greatness,”
said Bianca.  “He says this moon will not be out
without our seeing some strange revolution.  For my part, I
should not be surprised if it was to happen to-morrow; for, as I
was saying, when I heard the clattering of armour, I was all in a
cold sweat.  I looked up, and, if your Greatness will
believe me, I saw upon the uppermost banister of the great stairs
a hand in armour as big as big.  I thought I should have
swooned.  I never stopped until I came hither—would I
were well out of this castle.  My Lady Matilda told me but
yester-morning that her Highness Hippolita knows
something.”


“Thou art an insolent!” cried Manfred. 
“Lord Marquis, it much misgives me that this scene is
concerted to affront me.  Are my own domestics suborned to
spread tales injurious to my honour?  Pursue your claim by
manly daring; or let us bury our feuds, as was proposed, by the
intermarriage of our children.  But trust me, it ill becomes
a Prince of your bearing to practise on mercenary
wenches.”


“I scorn your imputation,” said Frederic. 
“Until this hour I never set eyes on this damsel: I have
given her no jewel.  My Lord, my Lord, your conscience, your
guilt accuses you, and would throw the suspicion on me; but keep
your daughter, and think no more of Isabella.  The judgments
already fallen on your house forbid me matching into
it.”


Manfred, alarmed at the resolute tone in which Frederic
delivered these words, endeavoured to pacify him. 
Dismissing Bianca, he made such submissions to the Marquis, and
threw in such artful encomiums on Matilda, that Frederic was once
more staggered.  However, as his passion was of so recent a
date, it could not at once surmount the scruples he had
conceived.  He had gathered enough from Bianca’s
discourse to persuade him that heaven declared itself against
Manfred.  The proposed marriages too removed his claim to a
distance; and the principality of Otranto was a stronger
temptation than the contingent reversion of it with
Matilda.  Still he would not absolutely recede from his
engagements; but purposing to gain time, he demanded of Manfred
if it was true in fact that Hippolita consented to the
divorce.  The Prince, transported to find no other obstacle,
and depending on his influence over his wife, assured the Marquis
it was so, and that he might satisfy himself of the truth from
her own mouth.


As they were thus discoursing, word was brought that the
banquet was prepared.  Manfred conducted Frederic to the
great hall, where they were received by Hippolita and the young
Princesses.  Manfred placed the Marquis next to Matilda, and
seated himself between his wife and Isabella.  Hippolita
comported herself with an easy gravity; but the young ladies were
silent and melancholy.  Manfred, who was determined to
pursue his point with the Marquis in the remainder of the
evening, pushed on the feast until it waxed late; affecting
unrestrained gaiety, and plying Frederic with repeated goblets of
wine.  The latter, more upon his guard than Manfred wished,
declined his frequent challenges, on pretence of his late loss of
blood; while the Prince, to raise his own disordered spirits, and
to counterfeit unconcern, indulged himself in plentiful draughts,
though not to the intoxication of his senses.


The evening being far advanced, the banquet concluded. 
Manfred would have withdrawn with Frederic; but the latter
pleading weakness and want of repose, retired to his chamber,
gallantly telling the Prince that his daughter should amuse his
Highness until himself could attend him.  Manfred accepted
the party, and to the no small grief of Isabella, accompanied her
to her apartment.  Matilda waited on her mother to enjoy the
freshness of the evening on the ramparts of the castle.


Soon as the company were dispersed their several ways,
Frederic, quitting his chamber, inquired if Hippolita was alone,
and was told by one of her attendants, who had not noticed her
going forth, that at that hour she generally withdrew to her
oratory, where he probably would find her.  The Marquis,
during the repast, had beheld Matilda with increase of
passion.  He now wished to find Hippolita in the disposition
her Lord had promised.  The portents that had alarmed him
were forgotten in his desires.  Stealing softly and
unobserved to the apartment of Hippolita, he entered it with a
resolution to encourage her acquiescence to the divorce, having
perceived that Manfred was resolved to make the possession of
Isabella an unalterable condition, before he would grant Matilda
to his wishes.


The Marquis was not surprised at the silence that reigned in
the Princess’s apartment.  Concluding her, as he had
been advertised, in her oratory, he passed on.  The door was
ajar; the evening gloomy and overcast.  Pushing open the
door gently, he saw a person kneeling before the altar.  As
he approached nearer, it seemed not a woman, but one in a long
woollen weed, whose back was towards him.  The person seemed
absorbed in prayer.  The Marquis was about to return, when
the figure, rising, stood some moments fixed in meditation,
without regarding him.  The Marquis, expecting the holy
person to come forth, and meaning to excuse his uncivil
interruption, said,


“Reverend Father, I sought the Lady
Hippolita.”


“Hippolita!” replied a hollow voice; “camest
thou to this castle to seek Hippolita?” and then the
figure, turning slowly round, discovered to Frederic the
fleshless jaws and empty sockets of a skeleton, wrapt in a
hermit’s cowl.


“Angels of grace protect me!” cried Frederic,
recoiling.


“Deserve their protection!” said the
Spectre.  Frederic, falling on his knees, adjured the
phantom to take pity on him.


“Dost thou not remember me?” said the
apparition.  “Remember the wood of Joppa!”


“Art thou that holy hermit?” cried Frederic,
trembling.  “Can I do aught for thy eternal
peace?”


“Wast thou delivered from bondage,” said the
spectre, “to pursue carnal delights?  Hast thou
forgotten the buried sabre, and the behest of Heaven engraven on
it?”


“I have not, I have not,” said Frederic;
“but say, blest spirit, what is thy errand to me? 
What remains to be done?”


“To forget Matilda!” said the apparition; and
vanished.


Frederic’s blood froze in his veins.  For some
minutes he remained motionless.  Then falling prostrate on
his face before the altar, he besought the intercession of every
saint for pardon.  A flood of tears succeeded to this
transport; and the image of the beauteous Matilda rushing in
spite of him on his thoughts, he lay on the ground in a conflict
of penitence and passion.  Ere he could recover from this
agony of his spirits, the Princess Hippolita with a taper in her
hand entered the oratory alone.  Seeing a man without motion
on the floor, she gave a shriek, concluding him dead.  Her
fright brought Frederic to himself.  Rising suddenly, his
face bedewed with tears, he would have rushed from her presence;
but Hippolita stopping him, conjured him in the most plaintive
accents to explain the cause of his disorder, and by what strange
chance she had found him there in that posture.


“Ah, virtuous Princess!” said the Marquis,
penetrated with grief, and stopped.


“For the love of Heaven, my Lord,” said Hippolita,
“disclose the cause of this transport!  What mean
these doleful sounds, this alarming exclamation on my name? 
What woes has heaven still in store for the wretched
Hippolita?  Yet silent!  By every pitying angel, I
adjure thee, noble Prince,” continued she, falling at his
feet, “to disclose the purport of what lies at thy
heart.  I see thou feelest for me; thou feelest the sharp
pangs that thou inflictest—speak, for pity!  Does
aught thou knowest concern my child?”


“I cannot speak,” cried Frederic, bursting from
her.  “Oh, Matilda!”


Quitting the Princess thus abruptly, he hastened to his own
apartment.  At the door of it he was accosted by Manfred,
who flushed by wine and love had come to seek him, and to propose
to waste some hours of the night in music and revelling. 
Frederic, offended at an invitation so dissonant from the mood of
his soul, pushed him rudely aside, and entering his chamber,
flung the door intemperately against Manfred, and bolted it
inwards.  The haughty Prince, enraged at this unaccountable
behaviour, withdrew in a frame of mind capable of the most fatal
excesses.  As he crossed the court, he was met by the
domestic whom he had planted at the convent as a spy on Jerome
and Theodore.  This man, almost breathless with the haste he
had made, informed his Lord that Theodore, and some lady from the
castle were, at that instant, in private conference at the tomb
of Alfonso in St. Nicholas’s church.  He had dogged
Theodore thither, but the gloominess of the night had prevented
his discovering who the woman was.


Manfred, whose spirits were inflamed, and whom Isabella had
driven from her on his urging his passion with too little
reserve, did not doubt but the inquietude she had expressed had
been occasioned by her impatience to meet Theodore. 
Provoked by this conjecture, and enraged at her father, he
hastened secretly to the great church.  Gliding softly
between the aisles, and guided by an imperfect gleam of moonshine
that shone faintly through the illuminated windows, he stole
towards the tomb of Alfonso, to which he was directed by
indistinct whispers of the persons he sought.  The first
sounds he could distinguish were—


“Does it, alas! depend on me?  Manfred will never
permit our union.”


“No, this shall prevent it!” cried the tyrant,
drawing his dagger, and plunging it over her shoulder into the
bosom of the person that spoke.


“Ah, me, I am slain!” cried Matilda,
sinking.  “Good heaven, receive my soul!”


“Savage, inhuman monster, what hast thou done!”
cried Theodore, rushing on him, and wrenching his dagger from
him.


“Stop, stop thy impious hand!” cried Matilda;
“it is my father!”


Manfred, waking as from a trance, beat his breast, twisted his
hands in his locks, and endeavoured to recover his dagger from
Theodore to despatch himself.  Theodore, scarce less
distracted, and only mastering the transports of his grief to
assist Matilda, had now by his cries drawn some of the monks to
his aid.  While part of them endeavoured, in concert with
the afflicted Theodore, to stop the blood of the dying Princess,
the rest prevented Manfred from laying violent hands on
himself.


Matilda, resigning herself patiently to her fate, acknowledged
with looks of grateful love the zeal of Theodore.  Yet oft
as her faintness would permit her speech its way, she begged the
assistants to comfort her father.  Jerome, by this time, had
learnt the fatal news, and reached the church.  His looks
seemed to reproach Theodore, but turning to Manfred, he said,


“Now, tyrant! behold the completion of woe fulfilled on
thy impious and devoted head!  The blood of Alfonso cried to
heaven for vengeance; and heaven has permitted its altar to be
polluted by assassination, that thou mightest shed thy own blood
at the foot of that Prince’s sepulchre!”


“Cruel man!” cried Matilda, “to aggravate
the woes of a parent; may heaven bless my father, and forgive him
as I do!  My Lord, my gracious Sire, dost thou forgive thy
child?  Indeed, I came not hither to meet Theodore.  I
found him praying at this tomb, whither my mother sent me to
intercede for thee, for her—dearest father, bless your
child, and say you forgive her.”


“Forgive thee!  Murderous monster!” cried
Manfred, “can assassins forgive?  I took thee for
Isabella; but heaven directed my bloody hand to the heart of my
child.  Oh, Matilda!—I cannot utter it—canst
thou forgive the blindness of my rage?”


“I can, I do; and may heaven confirm it!” said
Matilda; “but while I have life to ask it—oh! my
mother! what will she feel?  Will you comfort her, my
Lord?  Will you not put her away?  Indeed she loves
you!  Oh, I am faint! bear me to the castle.  Can I
live to have her close my eyes?”


Theodore and the monks besought her earnestly to suffer
herself to be borne into the convent; but her instances were so
pressing to be carried to the castle, that placing her on a
litter, they conveyed her thither as she requested. 
Theodore, supporting her head with his arm, and hanging over her
in an agony of despairing love, still endeavoured to inspire her
with hopes of life.  Jerome, on the other side, comforted
her with discourses of heaven, and holding a crucifix before her,
which she bathed with innocent tears, prepared her for her
passage to immortality.  Manfred, plunged in the deepest
affliction, followed the litter in despair.


Ere they reached the castle, Hippolita, informed of the
dreadful catastrophe, had flown to meet her murdered child; but
when she saw the afflicted procession, the mightiness of her
grief deprived her of her senses, and she fell lifeless to the
earth in a swoon.  Isabella and Frederic, who attended her,
were overwhelmed in almost equal sorrow.  Matilda alone
seemed insensible to her own situation: every thought was lost in
tenderness for her mother.


Ordering the litter to stop, as soon as Hippolita was brought
to herself, she asked for her father.  He approached, unable
to speak.  Matilda, seizing his hand and her mother’s,
locked them in her own, and then clasped them to her heart. 
Manfred could not support this act of pathetic piety.  He
dashed himself on the ground, and cursed the day he was
born.  Isabella, apprehensive that these struggles of
passion were more than Matilda could support, took upon herself
to order Manfred to be borne to his apartment, while she caused
Matilda to be conveyed to the nearest chamber.  Hippolita,
scarce more alive than her daughter, was regardless of everything
but her; but when the tender Isabella’s care would have
likewise removed her, while the surgeons examined Matilda’s
wound, she cried,


“Remove me! never, never!  I lived but in her, and
will expire with her.”


Matilda raised her eyes at her mother’s voice, but
closed them again without speaking.  Her sinking pulse and
the damp coldness of her hand soon dispelled all hopes of
recovery.  Theodore followed the surgeons into the outer
chamber, and heard them pronounce the fatal sentence with a
transport equal to frenzy.


“Since she cannot live mine,” cried he, “at
least she shall be mine in death!  Father!  Jerome!
will you not join our hands?” cried he to the Friar, who,
with the Marquis, had accompanied the surgeons.


“What means thy distracted rashness?” said
Jerome.  “Is this an hour for marriage?”


“It is, it is,” cried Theodore.  “Alas!
there is no other!”


“Young man, thou art too unadvised,” said
Frederic.  “Dost thou think we are to listen to thy
fond transports in this hour of fate?  What pretensions hast
thou to the Princess?”


“Those of a Prince,” said Theodore; “of the
sovereign of Otranto.  This reverend man, my father, has
informed me who I am.”


“Thou ravest,” said the Marquis. 
“There is no Prince of Otranto but myself, now Manfred, by
murder, by sacrilegious murder, has forfeited all
pretensions.”


“My Lord,” said Jerome, assuming an air of
command, “he tells you true.  It was not my purpose
the secret should have been divulged so soon, but fate presses
onward to its work.  What his hot-headed passion has
revealed, my tongue confirms.  Know, Prince, that when
Alfonso set sail for the Holy Land—”


“Is this a season for explanations?” cried
Theodore.  “Father, come and unite me to the Princess;
she shall be mine!  In every other thing I will dutifully
obey you.  My life! my adored Matilda!” continued
Theodore, rushing back into the inner chamber, “will you
not be mine?  Will you not bless your—”


Isabella made signs to him to be silent, apprehending the
Princess was near her end.


“What, is she dead?” cried Theodore; “is it
possible!”


The violence of his exclamations brought Matilda to
herself.  Lifting up her eyes, she looked round for her
mother.


“Life of my soul, I am here!” cried Hippolita;
“think not I will quit thee!”


“Oh! you are too good,” said Matilda. 
“But weep not for me, my mother!  I am going where
sorrow never dwells—Isabella, thou hast loved me; wouldst
thou not supply my fondness to this dear, dear woman? 
Indeed I am faint!”


“Oh! my child! my child!” said Hippolita in a
flood of tears, “can I not withhold thee a
moment?”


“It will not be,” said Matilda; “commend me
to heaven—Where is my father? forgive him, dearest
mother—forgive him my death; it was an error. 
Oh!  I had forgotten—dearest mother, I vowed never to
see Theodore more—perhaps that has drawn down this
calamity—but it was not intentional—can you pardon
me?”


“Oh! wound not my agonising soul!” said Hippolita;
“thou never couldst offend me—Alas! she faints! help!
help!”


“I would say something more,” said Matilda,
struggling, “but it cannot
be—Isabella—Theodore—for my
sake—Oh!—” she expired.


Isabella and her women tore Hippolita from the corse; but
Theodore threatened destruction to all who attempted to remove
him from it.  He printed a thousand kisses on her clay-cold
hands, and uttered every expression that despairing love could
dictate.


Isabella, in the meantime, was accompanying the afflicted
Hippolita to her apartment; but, in the middle of the court, they
were met by Manfred, who, distracted with his own thoughts, and
anxious once more to behold his daughter, was advancing to the
chamber where she lay.  As the moon was now at its height,
he read in the countenances of this unhappy company the event he
dreaded.


“What! is she dead?” cried he in wild
confusion.  A clap of thunder at that instant shook the
castle to its foundations; the earth rocked, and the clank of
more than mortal armour was heard behind.  Frederic and
Jerome thought the last day was at hand.  The latter,
forcing Theodore along with them, rushed into the court. 
The moment Theodore appeared, the walls of the castle behind
Manfred were thrown down with a mighty force, and the form of
Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appeared in the centre
of the ruins.


“Behold in Theodore the true heir of Alfonso!”
said the vision: And having pronounced those words, accompanied
by a clap of thunder, it ascended solemnly towards heaven, where
the clouds parting asunder, the form of St. Nicholas was seen,
and receiving Alfonso’s shade, they were soon wrapt from
mortal eyes in a blaze of glory.


The beholders fell prostrate on their faces, acknowledging the
divine will.  The first that broke silence was
Hippolita.


“My Lord,” said she to the desponding Manfred,
“behold the vanity of human greatness!  Conrad is
gone!  Matilda is no more!  In Theodore we view the
true Prince of Otranto.  By what miracle he is so I know
not—suffice it to us, our doom is pronounced! shall we not,
can we but dedicate the few deplorable hours we have to live, in
deprecating the further wrath of heaven? heaven ejects
us—whither can we fly, but to yon holy cells that yet offer
us a retreat.”


“Thou guiltless but unhappy woman! unhappy by my
crimes!” replied Manfred, “my heart at last is open
to thy devout admonitions.  Oh! could—but it cannot
be—ye are lost in wonder—let me at last do justice on
myself!  To heap shame on my own head is all the
satisfaction I have left to offer to offended heaven.  My
story has drawn down these judgments: Let my confession
atone—but, ah! what can atone for usurpation and a murdered
child? a child murdered in a consecrated place?  List, sirs,
and may this bloody record be a warning to future
tyrants!”


“Alfonso, ye all know, died in the Holy Land—ye
would interrupt me; ye would say he came not fairly to his
end—it is most true—why else this bitter cup which
Manfred must drink to the dregs.  Ricardo, my grandfather,
was his chamberlain—I would draw a veil over my
ancestor’s crimes—but it is in vain!  Alfonso
died by poison.  A fictitious will declared Ricardo his
heir.  His crimes pursued him—yet he lost no Conrad,
no Matilda!  I pay the price of usurpation for all!  A
storm overtook him.  Haunted by his guilt he vowed to St.
Nicholas to found a church and two convents, if he lived to reach
Otranto.  The sacrifice was accepted: the saint appeared to
him in a dream, and promised that Ricardo’s posterity
should reign in Otranto until the rightful owner should be grown
too large to inhabit the castle, and as long as issue male from
Ricardo’s loins should remain to enjoy it—alas! alas!
nor male nor female, except myself, remains of all his wretched
race!  I have done—the woes of these three days speak
the rest.  How this young man can be Alfonso’s heir I
know not—yet I do not doubt it.  His are these
dominions; I resign them—yet I knew not Alfonso had an
heir—I question not the will of heaven—poverty and
prayer must fill up the woeful space, until Manfred shall be
summoned to Ricardo.”


“What remains is my part to declare,” said
Jerome.  “When Alfonso set sail for the Holy Land he
was driven by a storm to the coast of Sicily.  The other
vessel, which bore Ricardo and his train, as your Lordship must
have heard, was separated from him.”


“It is most true,” said Manfred; “and the
title you give me is more than an outcast can claim—well!
be it so—proceed.”


Jerome blushed, and continued.  “For three months
Lord Alfonso was wind-bound in Sicily.  There he became
enamoured of a fair virgin named Victoria.  He was too pious
to tempt her to forbidden pleasures.  They were
married.  Yet deeming this amour incongruous with the holy
vow of arms by which he was bound, he determined to conceal their
nuptials until his return from the Crusade, when he purposed to
seek and acknowledge her for his lawful wife.  He left her
pregnant.  During his absence she was delivered of a
daughter.  But scarce had she felt a mother’s pangs
ere she heard the fatal rumour of her Lord’s death, and the
succession of Ricardo.  What could a friendless, helpless
woman do?  Would her testimony avail?—yet, my lord, I
have an authentic writing—”


“It needs not,” said Manfred; “the horrors
of these days, the vision we have but now seen, all corroborate
thy evidence beyond a thousand parchments.  Matilda’s
death and my expulsion—”


“Be composed, my Lord,” said Hippolita;
“this holy man did not mean to recall your
griefs.”  Jerome proceeded.


“I shall not dwell on what is needless.  The
daughter of which Victoria was delivered, was at her maturity
bestowed in marriage on me.  Victoria died; and the secret
remained locked in my breast.  Theodore’s narrative
has told the rest.”


The Friar ceased.  The disconsolate company retired to
the remaining part of the castle.  In the morning Manfred
signed his abdication of the principality, with the approbation
of Hippolita, and each took on them the habit of religion in the
neighbouring convents.  Frederic offered his daughter to the
new Prince, which Hippolita’s tenderness for Isabella
concurred to promote.  But Theodore’s grief was too
fresh to admit the thought of another love; and it was not until
after frequent discourses with Isabella of his dear Matilda, that
he was persuaded he could know no happiness but in the society of
one with whom he could for ever indulge the melancholy that had
taken possession of his soul.

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