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pursue it save her whom sweet experience has taught — from the hour when first was heard
“ The voice that whispers in the mother's breast,
While sleeps her infant in its rosy rest," to the day when the noon of life opens on her offspring ?
Arnold had ever been dear to her. His mild and gentle demeanour had won upon her affections; and she hung over him with all the plenitude of maternal feeling. But at the present moment, he was still more dear. A mother's eye is quick to discern the latent sensations that awaken the sympathies of unchilled affection, more especially when their germs are springing on the soil of a heart, which drew from her sorrows the pulse of life. She had marked Arnold, on that day when the daughter of Guiscald was first introduced to him. She had watched the involuntary glance, and the sudden confusion, unnoticed by all besides, which had tinged their cheeks, and that more than once, amid the revelries of the tournaments. She had seen them on that morning when they parted—and she had augured something that was destined either to colour the stream of their being, with the radiance of domestic felicity, and confiding and requited love, or to infuse all the bitterness of hlighted affections, anxiety and suffering. When, therefore, she held once more in her embrace the object of her tenderest solicitude, she could not repress an instantaneous throb at the thought of what might await him. Alas! he knew not the distress that was before him, and Evelinda trembled to believe how soon it must be revealed.
When the first emotions of transport had subsided, or at least as soon after as he hoped he might make the inquiry without exciting suspicions, he asked for the family of de Guiscald. “ There had been accounts," the baroness replied, and endeavoured to turn the conversation.
“Of what nature, Mother?” rejoined the impatient youth, whose cheek had already assumed an unusual paleness.
“ They were not so favourable as we might have wished. There were some fears that his late attempt had been unsuccessful."
“ What attempt?" eagerly demanded Arnold.
“O something,” she answered, “ of which we have had merely vague reports.”
Arnold was silent. Rumour, clothed with that mystery in which rumour ever delights to involve itself, had indeed, during his absence, found its
that some revolt, of which de Guiscald was the principal mover, had occurred on the borders of the empire; and as he was known to be an aspiring character, there were many who could not avoid entertaining apprehensions for the issue of so hazardous an enterprise. Seldom, however, was a whisper permitted to escape the wary lips of the chieftains who were privy to it
, fervently as they might wish success to the undertaking. Prudently keeping aloof from any participation in so dubious an attempt, they waited with well-dissembled ignorance the favourable moment to declare themselves, should fortune appear auspicious to the design.
In fact, these apprehensions were but too well founded. De Guiscald, seizing the opportunity when the Emperor was engaged in a foreign war, and when so large a portion of his forces was occupied at a distance, had hurried on the revolt before it was ripe for execution. The conspirators, consequently, unprepared to act in concert, were severally defeated, and de Guiscald himself, suddenly attacked by a body of veterans, who had been secretly dispatched to a defile in the vicinity of his castle, was over
way to the
powered, and taken prisoner. Carried in chains to Vienna, he was there condemned as a traitor by public trial. He was accordingly stripped of his territorial possessions, situate on the borders of the empire, which were declared to have escheated to the crown; his name was erased from the lists of nobility, and his blood attainted. He was then dragged, with every mark of ignominy, through the streets, to the spot where the scaffold had been erected, and there beheaded; regretted by many, as a man whose valour and magnanimity, which had been remarkably displayed on several occasions, had merited a better fate. His family were of course reduced to poverty. Those who in the days of their prosperity had been warmest in professions of friendship, in the hour of adversity were the first to abandon them; and they were driven on the world, exposed alike to the taunts of insolence and the evils of penury. The baronial castle was occupied by a force sent for the purpose from the seat of government, and the vassals took the oath of fealty, as holding their tenures immediately from the head of the empire.
A catastrophe so disastrous could not be long concealed. But Arnold had little idea of the overwhelming nature of the sorrows that awaited him from it; nor indeed could he have conceived it possible-perhaps his mind had never taken that view of the subject—that it could be attended with the utter ruin of the family of the unfortunate chieftain. His heart, however, was overflowing; and he could not long have restrained the tide that swelled it. But the tenderness of a mother, ever solicitous for the happiness of her offspring, saved him the pain of introducing a subject, which she saw now engrossed his thoughts. He became daily more taciturn, daily more abstracted from what was passing around him. He wandered alone on the mountains, or through the vallies ; he might be heard through the night pacing his chamber; and when the morning sun arose, it was often evident that sleep had not visited his eyes.
Having gone one evening—it was a sweet evening in the decline of the year—to muse in a retreat he loved, at a little distance, and there to indulge in the melancholy that was preying on his heart, thither his mother followed him. Unobserved she had traced his steps; and entering a few minutes after him, she found him supporting his head upon his hand, with his eyes pensively fixed
the ground. He did not at first observe her; but presently, struck by her shadow, which the slanting rays cast across the room, and placed, as it were by magic, under the arm of the woodland chair on which he was reclining, he started up
with a sudden exclamation of surprise, in which the name of Margaret de Guiscald alone met the ear of her who stood gazing on him with so intense an anxiety. This occurrence, favourable for her purpose, rendered it more easy to introduce the subject which already trembled on her lips; but to which otherwise, perhaps, she would scarcely have had fortitude to allude. She seated herself upon the chair from which he had risen, and affectionately taking his hand, on which a tear fell, desired him to sit down beside her, as she had something particular to communicate. He obeyed; and they were placed side by side. A season, doubtless, it was of heart-rending interest: yet cannot we say, in the beautiful imagery of the poet, difficult as was her task, that
“ Arnold's mother only chid with tears?" but this we are enabled to affirm, from the records whence we derive ou story, that they were warm and many, which she mingled with her admonitions and intreaties.
« Young soldier, are not thy hopes
Light as the birds of the spring,
Whose fragrance buoys up their wing?
Sweet will be the voice of their singing,
For a while their flight will be gay;
And, as those blossoms pass, so will they !"
“ I NEED not tell you, Arnold," began the unhappy mother,
66 of the tender interest I take in whatever concerns you. My conduct towards you will render a better testimony to this, than any thing I could say. Words are easy of utterance, and unless attended by proofs more substantial of the love I bear you, can have no claim to your attention. But, unforgotten by me at least, though they may have escaped your notice, or eluded the recollection of infancy and childhood, are all the sweet moments I passed beside your cradle: all the hours I watched
while you slept : all the prayers I offered on your behalf-to Him, who once had taken such as you then were in his arms, and blest them—and that when no human eye could see, no buman ear could hear. From day to day I followed
my heart as you matured, and dear were the hopes I cherished of my Arnold.” Here she paused for an instant, interrupted by her emotion. The youth could only reply: Mother, I never doubted your affection."
“ If it be so, then, Arnold,” she continued,“ you will not question my tenderness, though the suggestions I may offer you coincide not altogether with your feelings.—Be not alarmed, Arnold. I observe
grow pale, but only listen to me." She paused again, as if to summon fortitude. “ Arnold, I have long read your heart. A mother's eye is quick, Arnold : and I know you love-have long loved-Margaret de Guiscald. Once, Arnold, no better alliance could have presented itself for you. When you first formed an intimacy with her, indeed, her character was in many respects not such as I think would now accord with your inclinations ; but she, too, Arnold, with yourself, is much altered. I'ime has passed over her, as over you. An attachment--whence it derived its origin it is un-, necessary to tell you-an attachment, interwoven, if I may judge from what I have witnessed, with her very being, and formed neither to-day nor yesterday, has been instrumental, under a higher influence, of throwing a shade of mildness around her, and of pruning those exuberances which are almost incompatible with the felicity of connubial intercourse. Yes, Arnold, she is greatly changed; and is now such as I should truly rejoice to see the companion of your years.” Again she was interrupted by a burst of tears which she was unable to repress : but she soon resumed,
“ Yet, Arnold, are there no considerations ?—be patient, Arnold, and listen to the voice of a mother that loves you. Were my wishes, only, to be consulted, another sun should not set ere you were united to Margaret de Guiscald. No, Arnold; it never would be I, who, when there was such promise of happiness for you, would thwart your inclinations.”
“ I believe it, mother," the youth replied.
“ Are there, then, no considerations, Arnold, which should induce you to pause ere you surrender yourself to a passion, which like a canker is already preying upon your life? I know-full well I know-how difficult is the task I enjoin you. Your mother, Arnold, loved once. Trust her, then, for not pressing with too much severity on the feelings of your heart. What these considerations are, I need scarcely say. You are already aware of the fate of her father, and the consequent ruin of his family. They have been bereft of every thing they possessed, and are now wandering,—but where, has not yet been ascertained. The rumour has reached us, indeed, that Margaret is now residing in a retired spot near the confines of the empire, under the roof of her nurse, who, in this hour of adversity, if we may credit report, is testifying that her affection for the babe she fed had a deeper root than interest. I have sent a confidential messenger to enquire into the circumstance, and have also taken care to make some other provision for her comfort;- for were she not dear to me for her own sake, Arnold, she would be more than dear to me for yours.” Overcome by his parent's tenderness, and all the mingled emotions occasioned by her communication, Arnold clasped his mother's hand and burst into tears. He did not speak, however, and she resumed:
“ But, whether this information be true or false, there are difficulties in the way of your union, which appear almost insuperable. The family is reduced beyond the hope of restoration. We have lately heard that the emperor is exasperated to the highest degree ; and that he is determined, as he expressed it, to destroy the viper, and prevent it from ever turning upon the foot that crushes it. And alas ! such is the pride of the human heart, and so much inclined are we to keep at a distance from the unfortunate, that the descendants of the late Baron are shunned by one and all. You are not unacquainted with the character of your father.—He, you know, has all the haughtiness of the Weimars with the ambition of the Guiscalds. The disposition of the Emperor, therefore, will be his rule: and as that has already been displayed in a manner that cannot be misunderstood, de Weimar will be the last to turn an eye of commiseration on the connexions of the unhappy chieftain ; and I have heard him more than once, drop some such cruel insinuations.
“ As yet, I believe, he is ignorant of the secrets of your heart. He was made for war and tumult, and the hardships of a camp, and the delirium of battle suit better with his nature, than the tender passages of a calm and retired life. He has observed, it is true, the striking change in your deportment, and he has several times expressed his surprise at it. The cause of it, Arnold, it will not, I am afraid, be practicable much longer to conceal from him. But I dread the disclosure, and it is my intreaty that you again return to your accustomed avocations, and endeavour for a season to banish the image which now twines itself around your affections. If you could for ever forget”-she looked at Arnold, and beheld something of a smile of despondency playing upon his lips, as if it would have said ; “ with the last pulse of life and with that alone I may forget”-“ If you could for ever forget her.-But, Arnold, how could I ask it, when sad