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the companions of his dangers. In those troubled times, his military character gave him an easy access to the councils of the state ; and in the bold and wary general was found a subtle politician, and without any of the tumults of sudden revolution all his rivals melted away before him. As a soldier, he was admired by his young and gallant sovereign ; his powerful mind obtained a complete dominion over the feebler intellect and easier temper of the Duke ; and Muratone wanted neither aptitude of nature, nor the pliability of art, to enable him to mingle in all the princely pleasures of a high-spirited and gorgeous court. Indeed the love of pleasure seemed to the world the one weakness of his mind. Now that almost all appeared to be gained for which his most extravagant ambition could have hoped, passions burst out at intervals which in his younger days had been held down with a strong hand by the settled purpose of his soul; and it was whispered that not a few of the Count's hours of retirement were spent in employments less austere than might be guessed from his thoughtful brow and penetrating eye, and the proud reserve of his compressed lips. Yet it was hinted by those who were nearest to his person, that he had yet weaker points than this ;—that sometimes he seemed to indulge in strange and mysterious fancies, that his course was directed by an imperious destiny, of which he, with all his energies, was but the powerless and irresponsible instrument;—that he, who trusted and feared no living man, would listen with credulity and awe to any tale of supernatural marvels;-and that sometimes, when his conscience seemed to struggle with secret remembrances of his past life, he would seek relief in hours of superstitious observances and ascetie discipline. There were not wanting some to conjecture, that the successful ambition of Count Muratone would at last turn with disgust from the objects of his once ardent pursuit, and take refuge in the seclusion and penance of a monastic cell.
At length Muratone appeared to have attained his highest prize, when he was honoured with the hand of the sister of his sovereign. No magnificence was spared in the celebration of his princely nuptials. The long procession moved in solemn pomp from the ducal palace to the cathedral. A troop of horsemen headed the varied and glittering column. Then came instruments of martial music; which sometimes in a low key - regulated the march, then burst forth in a loud and spirit-stirring peal, dying away again in the shouts of the populace, who fluctuated in immense masses in every street and square, and looked down from window and balcony, roof and terrace, parapet and pinnacle; and with the deep and growing roll of the drum, and the high and long-drawn flourish of trumpet, horn, and clarion, were mingled the wilder sounds of Eastern music, the clashing of cymbals, and the thrilling reverberation of the gong ; and gigantic figures looked up with swarthy faces which bore the tinge of no European climate, while with bare arms they shook the tambourine in the air, or the tall and slender cross beset with gilded bells ; and the white folds of their turbans, and their flowing and fantastic drapery, were well grouped with the more usual pageantry of occidental chivalry. Then curvetting side by side came heralds ; the herald of the Princess Isidora, on a huge white horse, with a peaceful lozenge emblazoned with the many-quartered bearings of her sovereign house; and the herald of Count Muratone, on a black charger of equal size and strength, supporting a massive shield charged with the devices of his less distinguished ancestry. Each herald was followed by his poursuivants and pages. With the grotesque and barbarous pomp of the age, the train of Muratone was terminated by hideous and mis-shapen dwarfs gorgeously apparelled; while the attendants of the Princess were noble and beautiful boys, with long raven ringlets floating on their shoulders ; and they caracoled, and laughed, and gazed about them, with a reality and intensity of pleasure, which better became the wedding festival than all its studied and elabcrate magnificence. Then, in the midst of a bevy of fair ladies, waving with plumes and glittering with jewels, each mounted on her palfrey and attended by her knight, in simple and unadorned majesty, veiled from every eye, and escorted by her princely brother, came the Lady Isidora. Slowly she moved along, and listlessly let the reins fall upon her horse's neck, and stooped her head as if overcome with feelings more painful than the mere bashfulness of a bride; and if doubled and redoubled shouts, or a loud and ringing peal of music, or an accidental disturbance of the procession, roused her for a moment, she looked around her as if she knew not where she was whither she was led. Muratone followed. At his right hand rode Federigo, the brother of the Duke; and they were attended by all the nobles of the land. But it were loss of time to tell how many gallant gentlemen rode that day behind the Count, or of how many colours, and of how marvellous fancy and richness was their attire: very stately was the waving of their plumes ; and many a one wore a gaud or jewel in his cap, which, if it were not a love-token, would have better become a fair lady: but all such quaint devices, and the glittering of their arms, and the ringing of their golden chains, and the pacing of their horses, and the bravery of their housings, and how their squires rode after them, I will at the present pass over. Last of all, in seemly array, as if they were about to meet an enemy's power, marched divers troops who had of old time fought with the Count Muratone in the wars. If you had
stood upon a church-tower, and looked down into the street, and heard the trampling of all that mighty train pass by, it would have seemed to you like the continuous and tumultuous rushing of a great river, when it is swollen and roughened by the torrents of the mountains. When they were all well come into the cathedral, the ladies sat in fair and
beautiful order in the galleries, and the gentlemen of good estate stood in the great aisle and the chancel, so that the noblest were nearest to the high altar, and the side aisles were crowded with the citizens.
Among these last, muffled in a long, dark cloak, stood a young gentleman of one of the noblest houses of Padua ; and many wondered that he should so come to behold the spectacle, instead of consorting with those of like rank, and mingling in the pomp of the procession. Few indeed would have presented themselves in the pageant with more dignity and grace than Agostino della Monterosa. The perfect symmetry of his form gave perfect ease to all his motions; and the beautiful regularity of his features made their sternness scarcely perceptible to a casual observer. If ever ladies' eyes rained influence, it was when Monterosa appeared in the tilt-yard or the court. None of the youth of Padua could so gracefully manage a horse, or set a spear in rest; none could lead a masque, or tread a measure, with equal elegance ; or play serenades so sweet, or sing ditties so tender, when ladies left their lattices open to admit the fresh and dewy air of midnight. Yet it was not often that Monterosa mixed in the gaieties and gallantries of the ducal palace. He had wandered in foreign climates; he had jousted in Aspramont and Trebizond; he had fought in Spain, and Greece, and Syria, and Egypt; and had returned to earn a noble name in the wars of his native state. But he had learnt the languages and sciences of strange nations; and now by fits he seemed to bury himself in the seclusion of the Paduan schools, and for weeks, or even months, to neglect the usual employments and pleasures of his age and rank. Now, when all that was noble and gay in Padua was poured forth at once in the marriage pomp of the Lady Isidora and Count Muratone, Monterosa stood apart from all the glittering ranks. Wrapped in a long black mantle he leaned with folded arms against one of the massy pillars of the aisle, and seemed to watch with intense earnestness every motion of the groupe who stood raised above the crowd by the steps of the high altar. His long black hair was thrown back, his brows contracted over his restless and flashing eyes, his lips pressed almost convulsively together, and the glowing hue which usually relieved his very dark complexion was changed for a livid paleness. . If any one had known his thoughts, and had watched him at that hour, he would have seen how he gazed at the altar, how he listened while the Bishop read the solemn office of the church, how he seemed to strain every sense to catch the sound of Isidora's voice. It was to no purpose. If she spoke, her tone was very low. He shuddered as Muratone placed the ring upon her passive hand: but when all was over, and the Count raised her veil, and disclosed that beautiful face, deadly pale and bathed in tears, and Isidora flung herself into her brother's arms and sobbed aloud, -while a murmur of pity and dissatisfaction rose throughout the church,—Agostino turned away, and pressed hastily through the crowd. They gave way before him; his brain reeled ; he rushed into a little side chapel; and there, convulsively grasping the carving of an ancient monument, he leaned his face on his arms and buried it in his mantle. He heard not the tread and tumult of the retiring multitude; but when the last of the train were gone, he was roused by the silence of the vast cathedral. For hours he paced the solitary aisles, and at last he flung himself on the steps of the altar. In the agony of his soul he felt the yearning of prayer, but he could utter no articulate word but the name of Isidora. Then at length he wept very bitterly, and arose refreshed and strengthened. He left the church; and sick as he felt when he beheld in the squares the piles of fagots prepared for the rejoicings of the night, he reached the Monterosa palace, and before the evening closed, had left Padua far behind him. Just at sunset the bells of all the churches in the city pealed suddenly and loudly on the breeze; and Agostino spurred his horse, and drowned the hateful sound in the hurry of his rapid motion.
There was but one person who had ever suspected his ill-fated love; and to her, though she did not dare to confess it to herself, it was a secret and melancholy pleasure to have been beloved by Monterosa. To none had Agostino ever hinted his secret thoughts. His appearance at Muratone's marriage had been casually noticed by a few; but the only observation that it produced was, that Monterosa was always rather strange, and if he bewildered himself much more with study, he would soon be quite mad. In this prediction there was more truth than those who uttered it imagined. He had gone no one knew whither. After a few weeks he returned, worn out in mind and body. Again he departed, and again returned, after a shorter absence. He made a few more feeble efforts to tear himself away, but came back at last to seclude himself from the world, in the melancholy magnificence of his solitary palace. Yet, loathing as he did 'all business and all pleasure, weak as he was for every active exertion, still he struggled desperately to divert his mind from the one thought which poisoned his whole existence. He entangled himself in the metaphysics of the schools; he plunged deep into all the recesses of philosophy; he unrolled before himself all the wisdom of antiquity, and all the mysterious science of the East; yet still, when the night closed upon the incessant labours of the day, with a burning brain and with a bursting heart, he would steal in solitude and secrecy to the gardens of the Muratone palace. There he would pace the silent terraces, or the whispering avenues of oriental plane-trees, and he would fancy that the ground on which he trod had been pressed by the steps of Isidora;
and he delighted to listen in the stillness of night to the plash of falling fountains, and to think that the same unvarying sound had dwelt in the ears of Isidora. Sometimes he would throw himself on the turf, and watch for long, long hours, till a light appeared in the cabinet of the Countess. Then he would imagine her kneeling in her secret oratory, beautifully raising her meek eyes to heaven, and with delicate hands pressing her crucifix to her bosom in the ecstacy of sublime devotion. Oh! how he longed to be that cross, or a bead upon
rosary, or the very meanest thing that was touched by the hand of Isidora! A figure, a shadow, would pass over the illuminated window; he knew not whose it was ;-it might be Isidora's !—he felt assured that it was Isidora’s ; and it was a pleasure to him, a pleasure more intense than he had ever felt in the fullness of hope and joy, at that distance to watch in secret the shadow of Isidora.
Sometimes, among the gay and glittering crowd who on festal nights filled the saloons of the Ducal Palace, might be seen the shrinking form and haggard countenance of Monterosa. He shared not in the laugh and talk of the thoughtless multitude. Magnificence and beauty passed before him like the wearisome repetition of an unmeaning spectacle. Amidst all the mazes of the unceasing motion of those thronged and brilliant halls, he thought of nothing, he saw nothing, but the beautiful and melancholy Countess. Yet never was Monterosa seen in the ring of unthinking gallants, who sought distinction from the casual smiles of Isidora. Never was the honour of his lady more precious to his inmost soul, not when he placed in his helmet the glove which she had dropped perhaps by chance, and offered to break a lance for the praise of the fairest hand in Christendom, with the very flower of Moorish Chivalry in Granada and Hispalis. Not for all the knightly renown that had been won by the most puissant cavaliers of olden time, could he have endured that the slighest shadow of a cloud should pass over the purity of the gentle and uncomplaining Isidora.—The gentle and uncomplaining IsidoraNo; not even in her most secret hours was one word of sorrow caught up from her patient lips. To her brothers she seemed to cling with even more than her old affection: to her husband she was submissive, attentive to his most trifling wishes, and willing to appear gratified by his cold and studied respect. But Isidora was unhappy: her step was languid, her cheek pale, her eye