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of his feelings, never to renounce her. Then, in long and bewildering procession, the images of his earlier life passed over his soul; dangers confronted, labours endured, days and nights of consuming toil and painful thought; rival after rival supplanted and trampled down; step after step achieved in the ascent of glory. He felt that the hour of fate was upon him, that now his destiny was to be accomplished, that for him was decreed no middle height, no subordinate or dependent grandeur. Then, in dim magnificence, arose upon his memory the visions of past times, and all the hopes that he had ever cherished in the wildest dreams of his ambition. Monterosa's indistinct but glorious predictions came crowding upon his fevered thoughts; and, as he dwelt upon them, all his visionary feelings, all his credence in supernatural power, revived. Then he plunged into the deepest thought, and those fearful calculations, over which the bravest brood with awe, when empire and death are in the balance.
At midnight he left the palace. No one knew whither he went. The next day he appeared as usual in the councils of the Duke, and the demeanour of both was more proud and distant than before. That night, slowly and secretly, the streets were secured by bodies of armed men, whose numbers increased so gradually, that the citizens for a long time regarded the assemblage as accidental. Suddenly the palace was invested. In the darkness and tumult, the Duke perished unknown, by an unknown hand: Federigo fled: and in the morning the usurper came forth, amidst all the licence of his triumphant soldiery; and the terrified senators bowed the knee and swore allegiance.
Of late very few had seen Monterosa. Once, when Isidora opened her window at night, and leaned out to feel the freshness of the air, she thought she saw the figure of a man reclining against a tree, and looking up to the palace. She mentioned the circumstance to one of her attendants, and the woman told her that some persons said, that the handsome young nobleman, who had crazed himself with study, came often at night to the gardens; but she knew not what should bring the poor mad creature there in his wanderings. Isidora turned away, and sighed in the bitterness of her spirit. One or two had met Monterosa, but it was always at a strange hour and in unfrequented places. He was emaciated and ghastly, with the fire of insanity in his eyes, and marked for an early death by the burning hectic on his wasted cheek. When he returned from his terrible vigils in the mountains, he wondered for a while that he was no longer sought by the Count; but he soon learnt the cause, and once he went to the public walks to watch for the appearance of Fiammetta. He turned away with a smile of demoniac hatred; for in his madness he believed that she was the incarnate
fiend, whom he had invoked to be the tempter and destroyer of Muratone. He believed that a spirit of hell lay within his bosom, and that those eyes which now melted with languishment and love, would hereafter glare upon their victim with devilish exultation in their common prison of eternal fire.“ Toy with her ringlets," he muttered to himself, “ weave them round thy wanton fingers; thou knowest not that they are chains of everlasting adamant. A little longer press her soft and honeyed lips; they will not scorch thee yet, Muratone. Thou little thinkest in thine hours of dalliance of the serpent that is twined around thee.” He alone in Padua heard without surprize of the conspiracy and usurpation of the Count; and he sat in his lonely tower, and brooded with secret joy over the crimes of Muratone, and the gradual accomplishment of his own unnatural vengeance.
But a crime more foul was to be perpetrated, and never was it known how far its guilt was to be borne by the guilty Muratone. In the bosom of Fiammetta worked, indeed, the passions of a fiend. With all the voluptuous weakness of an abandoned woman, she shrunk not from deeds of blood, if that blood flowed in the path of her ambition. She had urged her paramour to become the murderer of his sovereign, friend, and brother. She saw the traitor seated on the ducal throne, and she resolved to share with him the pomp of power. She resolved that her haughty soul should no longer be compelled to confess to itself, that she was but the minion of his capricious pleasures.
From the night of her brother's death, deep sickness of heart had worn down the wretched Isidora. She lay in a stupor of grief, and seemed scarcely sensible of the forms that moved, or the voices that spoke around her. She knew only that her husband's hands were dyed with her brother's blood. Once, in the agitation of remorse, he came to look upon her pallid countenance. When he entered the room, she raised her halfclosed eyes, and turned away with a shriek, and no entreaty could prevail on her to behold his face. At last the agony of her grief passed by; she slept, and awoke refreshed and strengthened. Her women smiled on one another, as every morning they marked her returning health. But a fearful change awaited them. One midnight she awoke with groans; her face was flushed; her breathing difficult: her anguish increased, and she grasped the coverings of her bed, and screamed in agony. For a few moments she was motionless. Then her whole frame was convulsed, her features distorted, and a livid hue spread over her face, and neck, and arms. It retreated for a moment, and they became more flushed and burning; and she sprang from her bed in delirium, tearing her hair, and with shrieks imploring her husband to spare her brother. She tore off her night-dress, as if, in the fire which consumed her, she could not bear the slightest touch. Then she relapsed into insensibility; the livid marks of poison deepened over her beautiful limbs; and she awoke no more.
The death of the Duchess by a sudden sickness was announced; but it was soon whispered that she had perished by poison. One murmur of execration pervaded Padua. Curses of fear and hate were muttered against the tyrant and his paramour; for by all it was believed that Muratone had filled
the measure of his crimes, by destroying the innocent wife of his bosom, to make way for his abandoned mistress. Monterosa heard the common rumour. For hours he sat in helpless stupor. Then he arose in a paroxysm of frenzy so terrible, that his attendants fled from his presence. He dashed himself on the ground, and tore his hair by handfuls, and cursed his very being and the hour of his birth. He knew not how long he lay on the floor, but he looked up, and the stars were shining through the heavy and fretted windows. He sprang on his feet at once, burst through his domestics, who were watching in the antechamber, rushed from the palace, and in frantic haste reached the Muratone gardens. He paused at his accustomed station on the terrace. No light was in the oratory of Isidora; but from the next windows there was a feeble glimmer, as if there were lights in the apartment; but the curtains were closely drawn. He heard a faint sound, and listened till he distinguished the notes of the dead chaunt. Breathless he stood; and when it ceased, he flung himself with his face on the earth, and, in his agony, clutched his nails convulsively in the turf, and his groans were horrible to himself in the silence of the night. He half rose, and murmured, “O my beautiful, my beloved Isidora, I have murdered thee-I have murdered thee. My voice called up the powers of hell against thee, and gave thee over to an incarnate fiend.—0! thou accursed spirit, thou juggling devil, I did not bid thee work thy hellish arts to destroy my Isidora, the beloved of my soul.- Why have I borne my miserable life, but that she was still on earth ? and now thou art gone, Isidora, thou art gone for ever;" and then again he buried his face on the ground, and his limbs shook violently with his frightful convulsion. Then he started up, and spread his hands to heaven. “O ye accursed spirits of the deep, hear, hear once more, the voice of your
miserable master, and bring back the life of Isidora. Devils that ye are, ye mock
-Why are ye laughing in my ears? Why are your scowling faces clustering around me?–My hour is not yet come. -Begone to your place of torment; I know that I shall be with you soon,
ye have made me the murderer of Isidora.” At those terrible words he fell again on the earth, groaning until his groans died away in breathless insensibility. Slowly he opened
his eyes, and looked around him, in the utter misery and prostration of his soul. “O thou righteous Heaven, I sought to be avenged by unearthly means, and thou hast poured out upon me unearthly vengeance: I sought for forbidden power over the spirits of evil, and thou hast given me over to their devilish malice.” There was a line of grey light beneath the eastern clouds; yet there was the same indistinct glimmer on the distant windows, and the low sound of the chaunt was murmuring again upon the morning breeze. He could scarcely raise his benumbed and trembling limbs. He staggered homeward, and repulsing every offer of food, and every attention of his domestics, buried himself in his lonely chamber.
There was already a rumour that Federigo had placed himself at the head of a formidable body of Condottieri, and was advancing to regain his brother's sovereignty; and now it was known that, as soon as the obsequies of Isidora were performed, Muratone would go forth to meet the avenger of his race. The funeral took place at night.
no pomp, no train of attendants
. The people dared not assemble to gaze ; but deep were the curses of the few spectators, as Muratone was seen in the garb of mourning, surrounded by armed horsemen in long black cloaks, who rode two and two, the one bearing in his right hand a sword, and the other a blazing torch. From that tower, where, in the madness of his blind belief, he had so often outwatched the stars, Monterosa looked down upon the procession. It moved with greater haste that is used when the bodies of those we love are to be restored in solemn sorrow to the earth. The clang of hoofs echoed along the deserted streets. As the long train of horsemen passed beneath, here and there the upturned countenance of a torch-bearer was visible in the partial red light. It flashed on the drawn swords and other arms, but the waving of their sable plumes and mantles could scarcely be seen; and, as they passed on, all but the dots of light was lost in gloom. The eyes of Monterosa had rested only on the bier. The trampling died away ; but before it ceased, the faint sound of chaunting announced that the priests of the cathedral had met the procession. Monterosa burst into tears, the first that he had wept since Isidora's death, and looking up with dim eyes to heaven, he shook his head mournfully, and exclaimed, “I will trust you no more, ye misguiding lights: I will accomplish my own purpose : my beloved Isidora, thou shalt not die unavenged.”
On the following day Muratone had mustered his troops in the great square. He was passing on foot along the ranks, conversing familiarly with his old soldiers, inspecting their array, and promising victory and rewards. He had just reached the extremity of the line, and had glanced on the surrounding populace, and turned away, when a man darted from the crowd, and plunged a dagger at once to his heart. He was immediately seized by the soldiers; but all his strength seemed gone with the excitement of the moment, and he fell senseless in their arms. They tried in vain to revive him : the assassin had perished with the usurper: but the haggard and ghastly countenance was recognized to be that of Agostino della Monterosa.
I have an instinctive, hereditary love of queues. I do not mean to extend my veneration, (though I like them also,) to those graceful, tapering wands, with which captains in country quarters, and aspiring under-graduates, illustrate the abstruse problems of chances and angles. Yet I admire a game of billiards, without exposing my temper or my pocket to its temptations; for I am not ashamed of my mediocrity, and have no dislike to receiving a red-hazard. But I was not thinking of such queues. The queues which command my ever-ready respect, are those which a few stately, gray, primitive gentlemen, of a past generation, carry about with them, in all seasons and into all companies. They tell a tale of other days, and I delight to read them.
There are only two queues extant in the town in which I was born, and in which I have lived from my boyhood. How many of my old, queue-bearing friends, who used to smile when I, wanton rogue, climbed up their chairs and reverently laid their queues upon their powdered shoulders, how many have passed into the oblivious grave! I sometimes see their venerable shades in my day-dreams, with their ample rouleaus of curls around their temples, and their neatly twisted queues behind their backs. They are gone;-and they are succeeded by a cropped and degenerate race.
I am old enough to remember the decline and fall’of the empire of queues. Faithful companions, duteous followers, ye succumbed to the tyranny of the greatest of Tories. The fatal tax upon hair-powder exterminated you. Slowly and sadly did ye decay; and one by one did ye depart from the cares of this transitory life! Frail and innocent beings, ye were untimely plucked, and cut off from your abiding-place and your inheritance! In a few short
almost all yield to the avarice of those who should have cherished you. They cast you off in the hollowness of their friendship, and they went shorn into the bleak world, honourless, comfortless, queueless.