Charles Robert Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Chap 1
Chap 2
Chap 3
Chap 4
Chap 5
Chap 6
Chap 7
Chap 8
Chap 9
Chap 10
Chap 11
Chap 12
Chap 13
Chap 14
Chap 15
Chap 16
Chap 17
Chap 18
Chap 19
Chap 20
Chap 21
Chap 22
Chap 23
Chap 24
Chap 25
Chap 26
Chap 27
Chap 28
Chap 29
Chap 30
Chap 31
Chap 32
Chap 33
Chap 34
Chap 35
Chap 36
Chap 37
Chap 38
Chap 39

CHAPTER XXVI

* * * *
—And the twain were playing dice.
* * * *
The game is done, I’ve won, I’ve won,
Quoth she, and whistled thrice.
                COLERIDGE—Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

 

The Tale of Guzman’s Family

“Of what I am about to read to you,” said the stranger, “I have witnessed part myself, and the remainder is established on a basis as strong as human evidence can make it.

 “In the city of Seville, where I lived many years, I knew a wealthy merchant, far advanced in years, who was known by the name of Guzman the rich. He was of obscure birth,—and those who honoured his wealth sufficiently to borrow from him frequently, never honoured his name so far as to prefix Don to it, or to add his surname, of which, indeed, most were ignorant, and among the number, it is said, the wealthy merchant himself. He was well respected, however; and when Guzman was seen, as regularly as the bell tolled for vespers, to issue from the narrow door of his house,—lock it carefully,—view it twice or thrice with a wistful eye,—then deposit the key in his bosom, and move slowly to church, feeling for the key in his vest the whole way,—the proudest heads in Seville were uncovered as he passed,—and the children who were playing in the streets, desisted from their sports till he had halted by them.

 “Guzman had neither wife or child,—relative or friend. An old female domestic constituted his whole household, and his personal expences were calculated on a scale of the most pinching frugality; it was therefore matter of anxious conjecture to many, how his enormous wealth would be bestowed after his death. This anxiety gave rise to inquiries about the possibility of Guzman having relatives, though in remoteness and obscurity; and the diligence of inquiry, when stimulated at once by avarice and curiosity, is indefatigable. Thus it was at length discovered that Guzman had formerly a sister, many years younger than himself, who, at a very early age, had married a German musician, a Protestant, and had shortly after quitted Spain. It was remembered, or reported, that she had made many efforts to soften the heart and open the hand of her brother, who was even then very wealthy, and to induce him to be reconciled to their union, and to enable her and her husband to remain in Spain. Guzman was inflexible. Wealthy, and proud of his wealth as he was, he might have digested the unpalatable morsel of her union with a poor man, whom he could have made rich; but he could not even swallow the intelligence that she had married a Protestant. Ines, for that was her name, and her husband, went to Germany, partly in dependence on his musical talents, which were highly appreciated in that country,—partly in the vague hope of emigrants, that change of place will be attended with change of circumstances,—and partly, also, from the feeling, that misfortune is better tolerated any where than in the presence of those who inflict it. Such was the tale told by the old, who affected to remember the facts,—and believed by the young, whose imagination supplied all the defects of memory, and pictured to them an interesting beauty, with her children hanging about her, embarking, with a heretic husband, for a distant country, and sadly bidding farewell to the land and the religion of her fathers.

 “Now, while these things were talked of at Seville, Guzman fell sick, and was given over by the physicians, whom with considerable reluctance he had suffered to be called in.

 “In the progress of his illness, whether nature revisited a heart she long appeared to have deserted,—or whether he conceived that the hand of a relative might be a more grateful support to his dying head than that of a rapacious and mercenary menial,—or whether his resentful feelings burnt faintly at the expected approach of death, as artificial fires wax dim at the appearance of morning;—so it was, that Guzman in his illness bethought himself of his sister and her family,—sent off, at a considerable expence, an express to that part of Germany where she resided, to invite her to return and be reconciled to him,—and prayed devoutly that he might be permitted to survive till he could breathe his last amid the arms of her and her children. Moreover, there was a report at this time, in which the hearers probably took more interest than in any thing that related merely to the life or death of Guzman,—and this was, that he had rescinded his former will, and sent for a notary, with whom, in spite of his apparent debility, he remained locked up for some hours, dictating in a tone which, however clear to the notary, did not leave one distinct impression of sound on the ears that were strained, even to an agony of listening, at the double-locked door of his chamber.

 “All Guzman’s friends had endeavoured to dissuade him from making this exertion, which, they assured him, would only hasten his dissolution. But to their surprise, and doubtless their delight, from the moment his will was made, Guzman’s health began to amend,—and in less than a week he began to walk about his chamber, and calculate what time it might take an express to reach Germany, and how soon he might expect intelligence from his family.

 “Some months had passed away, and the priests took advantage of the interval to get about Guzman. But after exhausting every effort of ingenuity,—after plying him powerfully but unavailingly on the side of conscience, of duty, of fear, and of religion,—they began to understand their interest, and change their battery. And finding that the settled purpose of Guzman’s soul was not to be changed, and that he was determined on recalling his sister and her family to Spain, they contented themselves with requiring that he should have no communication with the heretic family, except through them,—and never see his sister or her children unless they were witnesses to the interview.

 “This condition was easily complied with, for Guzman felt no decided inclination for seeing his sister, whose presence might have reminded him of feelings alienated, and duties forgot. Besides, he was a man of fixed habits; and the presence of the most interesting being on earth, that threatened the slightest interruption or suspension of those habits, would have been to him insupportable.

 “Thus we are all indurated by age and habit,—and feel ultimately, that the dearest connexions of nature or passion may be sacrificed to those petty indulgences which the presence or influence of a stranger may disturb. So Guzman compromised between his conscience and his feelings. He determined, in spite of all the priests in Seville, to invite his sister and her family to Spain, and to leave the mass of his immense fortune to them; (and to that effect he wrote, and wrote repeatedly and explicitly). But, on the other hand, he promised and swore to his spiritual counsellors, that he never would see one individual of the family; and that, though his sister might inherit his fortune, she never—never should see his face. The priests were satisfied, or appeared to be so, with this declaration; and Guzman, having propitiated them with ample offerings to the shrines of various saints, to each of whom his recovery was exclusively attributed, sat down to calculate the probable expence of his sister’s return to Spain, and the necessity of providing for her family, whom he had, as it were, rooted from their native bed; and therefore felt bound, in all honesty, to make them flourish in the soil into which he had transplanted them.

 “Within the year, his sister, her husband, and four children, returned to Spain. Her name was Ines, her husband’s was Walberg. He was an industrious man, and an excellent musician. His talents had obtained for him the place of Maestro di Capella to the Duke of Saxony; and his children were educated (according to his means) to supply his place when vacated by death or accident, or to employ themselves as musical teachers in the courts of German princes. He and his wife had lived with the utmost frugality, and looked to their children for the means of increasing, by the exercise of their talents, that subsistence which it was their daily labour to provide.

 “The eldest son, who was called Everhard, inherited his father’s musical talents. The daughters, Julia and Ines, were musical also, and very skilful in embroidery. The youngest child, Maurice, was by turns the delight and the torment of the family.

 “They had struggled on for many years in difficulties too petty to be made the subject of detail, yet too severe not to be painfully felt by those whose lot is to encounter them every day, and every hour of the day,—when the sudden intelligence, brought by an express from Spain, of their wealthy relative Guzman inviting them to return thither, and proclaiming them heirs to all his vast riches, burst on them like the first dawn of his half-year’s summer on the crouching and squalid inmate of a Lapland hut. All trouble was forgot,—all cares postponed,—their few debts paid off,—and their preparations made for an instant departure to Spain.

 “So to Spain they went, and journeyed on to the city of Seville, where, on their arrival, they were waited on by a grave ecclesiastic, who acquainted them with Guzman’s resolution of never seeing his offending sister or her family, while at the same time he assured them of his intention of supporting and supplying them with every comfort, till his decease put them in possession of his wealth. The family were somewhat disturbed at this intelligence, and the mother wept at being denied the sight of her brother, for whom she still cherished the affection of memory; while the priest, by way of softening the discharge of his commission, dropt some words of a change of their heretical opinions being most likely to open a channel of communication between them and their relative. The silence with which this hint was received spoke more than many words, and the priest departed.

 “This was the first cloud that had intercepted their view of felicity since the express arrived in Germany, and they sat gloomily enough under its shadow for the remainder of the evening. Walberg, in the confidence of expected wealth, had not only brought over his children to Spain, but had written to his father and mother, who were very old, and wretchedly poor, to join him in Seville; and by the sale of his house and furniture, had been enabled to remit them money for the heavy expences of so long a journey. They were now hourly expected, and the children, who had a faint but grateful recollection of the blessing bestowed on their infant heads by quivering lips and withered hands, looked out with joy for the arrival of the ancient pair. Ines had often said to her husband, “Would it not be better to let your father and mother remain in Germany, and remit them money for their support, than put them to the fatigue of so long a journey at their far advanced age?”—And he had always answered, “Let them rather die under my roof, than live under that of strangers.”

 “This night he perhaps began to feel the prudence of his wife’s advice;—she saw it, and with cautious gentleness forbore, for that very reason, to remind him of it.

 “The weather was gloomy and cold that evening,—it was unlike a night in Spain. Its chill appeared to extend to the party. Ines sat and worked in silence—the children, collected at the window, communicated in whispers their hopes and conjectures about the arrival of the aged travellers, and Walberg, who was restlessly traversing the room, sometimes sighed as he overheard them.

 “The next day was sunny and cloudless. The priest again called on them, and, after regretting that Guzman’s resolution was inflexible, informed them, that he was directed to pay them an annual sum for their support, which he named, and which appeared to them enormous; and to appropriate another for the education of the children, which seemed to be calculated on a scale of princely munificence. He put deeds, properly drawn and attested for this purpose, into their hands, and then withdrew, after repeating the assurance, that they would be the undoubted heirs of Guzman’s wealth at his decease, and that, as the interval would be passed in affluence, it might well be passed without repining. The priest had scarcely retired, when the aged parents of Walberg arrived, feeble from joy and fatigue, but not exhausted, and the whole family sat down to a meal that appeared to them luxurious, in that placid contemplation of future felicity, which is often more exquisite than its actual enjoyment.

 “I saw them,” said the stranger, interrupting himself,—“I saw them on the evening of that day of union, and a painter, who wished to embody the image of domestic felicity in a group of living figures, need have gone no further than the mansion of Walberg. He and his wife were seated at the head of the table, smiling on their children, and seeing them smile in return, without the intervention of one anxious thought,—one present harassing of petty difficulty, or heavy presage of future mischance,—one fear of the morrow, or aching remembrance of the past. Their children formed indeed a groupe on which the eye of painter or of parent, the gaze of taste or of affection, might have hung with equal delight. Everhard their eldest son, now sixteen, possessed too much beauty for his sex, and his delicate and brilliant complexion, his slender and exquisitely moulded form, and the modulation of his tender and tremulous voice, inspired that mingled interest, with which we watch, in youth, over the strife of present debility with the promise of future strength, and infused into his parent’s hearts that fond anxiety with which we mark the progress of a mild but cloudy morning in spring, rejoicing in the mild and balmy glories of its dawn, but fearing lest clouds may overshade them before noon. The daughters, Ines and Julia, had all the loveliness of their colder climate—the luxuriant ringlets of golden hair, the large bright blue eyes, the snow-like whiteness of their bosoms, and slender arms, and the rose-leaf tint and peachiness of their delicate cheeks, made them, as they attended their parents with graceful and fond officiousness, resemble two young Hebes ministering cups, which their touch alone was enough to turn into nectar.

 “The spirits of these young persons had been early depressed by the difficulties in which their parents were involved; and even in childhood they had acquired the timid tread, the whispered tone, the anxious and inquiring look, that the constant sense of domestic distress painfully teaches even to children, and which it is the most exquisite pain to a parent to witness. But now there was nothing to restrain their young hearts,—that stranger, a smile, fled back rejoicing to the lovely home of their lips,—and the timidity of their former habits only lent a grateful shade to the brilliant exuberance of youthful happiness. Just opposite this picture, whose hues were so bright, and whose shades were so tender, were seated the figures of the aged grandfather and grandmother. The contrast was very strong; there was no connecting link, no graduated medium,—you passed at once from the first and fairest flowers of spring, to the withered and rootless barrenness of winter.

 “These very aged persons, however, had something in their looks to soothe the eye, and Teniers or Wouverman would perhaps have valued their figures and costume far beyond those of their young and lovely grandchildren. They were stiffly and quaintly habited in their German garb—the old man in his doublet and cap, and the old woman in her ruff, stomacher, and head-gear resembling a skullcap, with long depending pinners, through which a few white, but very long hairs, appeared on her wrinkled cheeks; but on the countenances of both there was a gleam of joy, like the cold smile of a setting sun on a wintry landscape. They did not distinctly hear the kind importunities of their son and daughter, to partake more amply of the most plentiful meal they had ever witnessed in their frugal lives,—but they bowed and smiled with that thankfulness which is at once wounding and grateful to the hearts of affectionate children. They smiled also at the beauty of Everhard and their elder grandchildren,—at the wild pranks of Maurice, who was as wild in the hour of trouble as in the hour of prosperity;—and finally, they smiled at all that was said, though they did not hear half of it, and at all they saw, though they could enjoy very little—and that smile of age, that placid submission to the pleasures of the young, mingled with undoubted anticipations of a more pure and perfect felicity, gave an almost heavenly expression to features, that would otherwise have borne only the withering look of debility and decay.

 “Some circumstances occurred during this family feast, which were sufficiently characteristic of the partakers. Walberg (himself a very temperate man) pressed his father repeatedly to take more wine than he was accustomed to,—the old man gently declined it. The son still pressed it heartfully, and the old man complied with a wish to gratify his son, not himself.

 “The younger children, too, caressed their grandmother with the boisterous fondness of children. Their mother reproached them.—“Nay, let be,” said the gentle old woman. “They trouble you, mother,” said the wife of Walberg.—“They cannot trouble me long,” said the grandmother, with an emphatic smile. “Father,” said Walberg, “is not Everhard grown very tall?”—“The last time I saw him,” said the grandfather, “I stooped to kiss him; now I think he must stoop to kiss me.” And, at the word, Everhard darted like an arrow into the trembling arms that were opened to receive him, and his red and hairless lips were pressed to the snowy beard of his grandfather. “Cling there, my child,” said the exulting father.—“God grant your kiss may never be applied to lips less pure.”—“They never shall, my father!” said the susceptible boy, blushing at his own emotions—“I never wish to press any lips but those that will bless me like those of my grandfather.”—“And do you wish,” said the old man jocularly, “that the blessing should always issue from lips as rough and hoary as mine?” Everhard stood blushing behind the old man’s chair at this question, and Walberg, who heard the clock strike the hour at which he had been always accustomed, in prosperity or adversity, to summon his family to prayer, made a signal which his children well understood, and which was communicated in whispers to their aged relatives.—“Thank God,” said the aged grandmother to the young whisperer, and as she spoke, she sunk on her knees. Her grandchildren assisted her. “Thank God,” echoed the old man, bending his stiffened knees, and doffing his cap—“Thank God for this “shadow of a great rock in a weary land!’”—and he knelt, while Walberg, after reading a chapter or two from a German Bible which he held in his hands, pronounced an extempore prayer, imploring God to fill their hearts with gratitude for the temporal blessings they enjoyed, and to enable them “so to pass through things temporal, that they might not finally lose the things eternal.” At the close of the prayer, the family rose and saluted each other with that affection which has not its root in earth, and whose blossoms, however diminutive and colourless to the eye of man in this wretched soil, shall yet bear glorious fruit in the garden of God. It was a lovely sight to behold the young people assisting their aged relatives to arise from their knees,—and it was a lovelier hearing, to listen to the happy good-nights exchanged among the parting family. The wife of Walberg was most assiduous in preparing the comforts of her husband’s parents, and Walberg yielded to her with that proud gratitude, that feels more exaltation in a benefit conferred by those we love, than if we conferred it ourselves. He loved his parents, but he was proud of his wife loving them because they were his. To the repeated offers of his children to assist or attend their ancient relatives, he answered, “No, dear children, your mother will do better,—your mother always does best.” As he spoke, his children, according to a custom now forgot, kneeled before him to ask his blessing. His hand, tremulous with affection, rested first on the curling locks of the darling Everhard, whose head towered proudly above those of his kneeling sisters, and of Maurice, who, with the irrepressible and venial levity of joyous childhood, laughed as he knelt. “God bless you!” said Walberg—“God bless you all,—and may he make you as good as your mother, and as happy as—your father is this night;” and as he spoke, the happy father turned aside and wept.

CHAPTER XXVII

—Quæque ipsa miserrima vidi,
 Et quorum pars magna fui.
                            VIRGIL

“The wife of Walberg, who was naturally of a cool sedate temper, and to whom misfortune had taught an anxious and jealous prevoyance, was not so intoxicated with the present prosperity of the family, as its young, or even its aged members. Her mind was full of thoughts which she would not communicate to her husband, and sometimes did not wish to acknowledge to herself; but to the priest, who visited them frequently with renewed marks of Guzman’s bounty, she spoke explicitly. She said, that however grateful for her brother’s kindness, for the enjoyment of present competence, and the hope of future wealth, she wished that her children might be permitted to acquire the means of independent subsistence for themselves, and that the money destined by Guzman’s liberality for their ornamental education, might be applied to the purpose of ensuring them the power of supporting themselves, and assisting their parents. She alluded slightly to the possible future change in her brother’s favourable feelings towards her, and dwelt much on the circumstance of her children being strangers in the country, wholly unacquainted with its language, and averse from its religion; and she mildly but strongly stated the difficulties to which a heretic family of strangers might be exposed in a Catholic country, and implored the priest to employ his mediation and influence with her brother, that her children might be enabled, through his bounty, to acquire the means of independent subsistence, as if—and she paused. The good and friendly priest (for he was truly both) listened to her with attention; and after satisfying his conscience, by adjuring her to renounce her heretical opinions, as the only means of obtaining a reconciliation with God and her brother, and receiving a calm, but firm negative, proceeded to give her his best lay advice, which was to comply with her brother’s wishes in every thing, to educate her children in the manner which he prescribed, and to the full extent of the means which he so amply furnished. He added, en confiance, that Guzman, though, during his long life, he had never been suspected of any passion but that of accumulating money, was now possessed with a spirit much harder to expel, and was resolved that the heirs of his wealth should be, in point of all that might embellish polished society, on a level with the descendants of the first nobility of Spain. Finally, he counselled submission to her brother’s wishes in all things,—and the wife of Walberg complied with tears, which she tried to conceal from the priest, and had completely effaced the traces of before she again met her husband.

 “In the mean time, the plan of Guzman was rapidly realized. A handsome house was taken for Walberg,—his sons and daughters were splendidly arrayed, and sumptuously lodged; and, though education was, and still is, on a very low level in Spain, they were taught all that was then supposed to qualify them as companions for the descendants of Hidalgoes. Any attempt, or even allusion to their being prepared for the ordinary occupations of life, was strictly forbidden by the orders of Guzman. The father triumphed in this,—the mother regretted it, but she kept her regret to herself, and consoled herself with thinking, that the ornamental education her children were receiving might ultimately be turned to account; for the wife of Walberg was a woman whom the experience of misfortune had taught to look to the future with an anxious eye, and that eye, with ominous accuracy, had seldom failed to detect a speck of evil in the brightest beam of sun-shine that had ever trembled on her chequered existence.

 “The injunctions of Guzman were obeyed,—the family lived in luxury. The young people plunged into their new life of enjoyment with an avidity proportioned to their youthful sensibility of pleasure, and to a taste for refinement and elegant pursuits, which their former obscurity had repressed, but never extinguished. The proud and happy father exulted in the personal beauty, and improving talents of his children. The anxious mother sighed sometimes, but took care the sigh should never reach her husband’s ear. The aged grandfather and grandmother, whose infirmities had been much increased by their journey to Spain, and possibly still more by that strong emotion which is a habit to youth, but a convulsion to age, sat in their ample chairs comfortably idle, dozing away life in intervals of unuttered though conscious satisfaction, and calm but venerable apathy;—they slept much, but when they awoke, they smiled at their grandchildren, and at each other.

 “The wife of Walberg, during this interval, which seemed one of undisturbed felicity to all but her, sometimes suggested a gentle caution,—a doubtful and anxious hint,—a possibility of future disappointment, but this was soon smiled away by the rosy, and laughing, and kissful lips of her children, till the mother at last began to smile at her apprehensions herself. At times, however, she led them anxiously in the direction of their uncle’s house. She walked up and down the street before his door with her children, and sometimes lifted up her veil, as if to try whether her eye could pierce through walls as hard as the miser’s heart, or windows barred like his coffers,—then glancing on her children’s costly dress, while her eye darted far into futurity, she sighed and returned slowly home. This state of suspence was soon to be terminated.

 “The priest, Guzman’s confessor, visited them often; first in quality of almoner or agent of his bounty, which was amply and punctually bestowed through his hands; and secondly, in quality of a professed chess-player, at which game he had met, even in Spain, no antagonist like Walberg. He also felt an interest in the family and their fortunes, which, though his orthodoxy disowned, his heart could not forbear to acknowledge,—so the good priest compromised matters by playing chess with the father, and praying for the conversion of his family on his return to Guzman’s house. It was while engaged in the former exercise, that a message arrived to summon him on the instant home,—the priest left his queen en prise, and hurried into the passage to speak with the messenger. The family of Walberg, with agitation unspeakable, half rose to follow him. They paused at the door, and then retreated with a mixed feeling of anxiety for the intelligence, and shame at the attitude in which they might be discovered. As they retreated, however, they could not help hearing the words of the messenger,—“He is at his last gasp,—he has sent for you,—you must not lose a moment.” As the messenger spoke, the priest and he departed.

 “The family returned to their apartment, and for some hours sat in profound silence, interrupted only by the ticking of the clock, which was distinctly and solely heard, and which seemed too loud to their quickened ears, amid that deep stillness on which it broke incessantly,—or by the echoes of Walberg’s hurried step, as he started from his chair and traversed the apartment. At this sound they turned, as if expecting a messenger, then, glancing at the silent figure of Walberg, sunk on their seats again. The family sat up all that long night of unuttered, and indeed unutterable emotion. The lights burnt low, and were at length extinguished, but no one noticed them;—the pale light of the dawn broke feebly into the room, but no one observed it was morning. “God!—how long he lingers!” exclaimed Walberg involuntarily; and these words, though uttered under his breath, made all the listeners start, as at the first sounds of a human voice, which they had not heard for many hours.

 “At this moment a knock was heard at the door,—a step trod slowly along the passage that led to the room,—the door opened, and the priest appeared. He advanced into the room without speaking, or being spoken to. And the contrast of strong emotion and unbroken silence,—this conflict of speech that strangled thought in the utterance, and of thought that in vain asked aid of speech,—the agony and the muteness,—formed a terrible momentary association. It was but momentary,—the priest, as he stood, uttered the words—“All is over!” Walberg clasped his hands over his forehead, and in ecstatic agony exclaimed,—“Thank God!” and wildly catching at the object nearest him, as if imagining it one of his children, he clasped and hugged it to his breast. His wife wept for a moment at the thought of her brother’s death, but roused herself for her children’s sake to hear all that was to be told. The Priest could tell no more but that Guzman was dead,—seals had been put on every chest, drawer, and coffer in the house,—not a cabinet had escaped the diligence of the persons employed,—and the will was to be read the following day.

 “For the following day the family remained in that intensity of expectation that precluded all thought. The servants prepared the usual meal, but it remained untasted. The family pressed each other to partake of it; but as the importunity was not enforced by the inviter setting any example of the lesson he tried to teach, the meal remained untasted. About noon a grave person, in the habit of a notary, was announced, and summoned Walberg to be present at the opening of Guzman’s will. As Walberg prepared to obey the summons, one of his children officiously offered him his hat, another his cloke, both of which he had forgot in the trepidation of his anxiety; and these instances of reminiscence and attention in his children, contrasted with his own abstraction, completely overcame him, and he sunk down on a seat to recover himself. “You had better not go, my love,” said his wife mildly. “I believe I shall—I must take your advice,” said Walberg, relapsing on the seat from which he had half risen. The notary, with a formal bow, was retiring. “I will go!” said Walberg, swearing a German oath, whose gutteral sound made the notary start,—“I will go!” and as he spoke he fell on the floor, exhausted by fatigue and want of refreshment, and emotion indescribable but to a father. The notary retired, and a few hours more were exhausted in torturing conjecture, expressed on the mother’s part only by clasped hands and smothered sighs,—on the father’s by profound silence, averted countenance, and hands that seemed to feel for those of his children, and then shrink from the touch,—and on the children’s by rapidly varying auguries of hope and of disappointment. The aged pair sat motionless among their family;—they knew not what was going on, but they knew if it was good they must partake of it,—and in the perception or expectation of the approach of evil, their faculties had latterly become very obtuse.

 “The day was far advanced,—it was noon. The servants, with whom the munificence of the deceased had amply supplied their establishment, announced that dinner was prepared; and Ines, who retained more presence of mind than the rest, gently suggested to her husband the necessity of not betraying their emotions to their servants. He obeyed her hint mechanically, and walked into the dining-hall, forgetting for the first time to offer his arm to his infirm father. His family followed, but, when seated at the table, they seemed not to know for what purpose they were collected there. Walberg, consumed by that thirst of anxiety which nothing seems sufficient to quench, called repeatedly for wine; and his wife, who found even the attempt to eat impossible in the presence of the gazing and unmoved attendants, dismissed them by a signal, but did not feel the desire of food restored by their absence. The old couple eat as usual, and sometimes looked up with an expression of vague and vacant wonder, and a kind of sluggish reluctance to admit the fear or belief of approaching calamity. Towards the end of their cheerless meal, Walberg was called out; he returned in a few minutes, and there was no appearance of change in his countenance. He seated himself, and only his wife perceived the traces of a wild smile stealing over the trembling lines of his face, as he filled a large glass of wine, and raised it to his lips, pronouncing—“A health to the heirs of Guzman.” But instead of drinking the wine, he dashed the glass to the floor, and burying his head in the drapery of the table on which he flung himself, he exclaimed, “Not a ducat,—not a ducat,—all left to the church!—Not a ducat!”

* * * *

* * * *

“In the evening the priest called, and found the family much more composed. The certainty of evil had given them a kind of courage. Suspence is the only evil against which it is impossible to set up a defence,—and, like young mariners in an untried sea, they almost felt ready to welcome the storm, as a relief from the deadly and loathsome sickness of anxiety. The honest resentment, and encouraging manner of the priest, were a cordial to their ears and hearts. He declared his belief, that nothing but the foulest means that might be resorted to by interested and bigotted monks, could have extorted such a will from the dying man,—his readiness to attest, in every court in Spain, the intentions of the testator (till within a few hours of his death) to have bequeathed his whole fortune to his family,—intentions which he had repeatedly expressed to him and others, and to whose effect he had seen a former will of no long date,—and, finally, gave his strenuous advice to Walberg to bring the matter to legal arbitration, in aid of which he promised his personal exertions, his influence with the ablest advocates in Seville, and every thing—but money.

 “The family that night went to bed with spirits exalted by hope, and slept in peace. One circumstance alone marked a change in their feelings and habits. As they were retiring, the old man laid his tremulous hand on the shoulder of Walberg, and said mildly, “My son, shall we pray before we retire?”—“Not to-night, father,” said Walberg, who perhaps feared the mention of their heretical worship might alienate the friendly priest, or who felt the agitation of his heart too great for the solemn exercise; “Not to-night, I am—too happy!”

 “The priest was as good as his word,—the ablest advocates in Seville undertook the cause of Walberg. Proofs of undue influence, of imposition, and of terror being exercised on the mind of the testator, were ingeniously made out by the diligence and spiritual authority of the priest, and skilfully arranged and ably pleaded by the advocates. Walberg’s spirits rose with every hour. The family, at the time of Guzman’s death, were in possession of a considerable sum of money, but this was soon expended, together with another sum which the frugality of Ines had enabled her to save, and which she now cheerfully produced in aid of her husband’s exigencies, and in confidence of eventual success. When all was gone, other resources still remained,—the spacious house was disposed of, the servants dismissed, the furniture sold (as usual) for about a fourth of its value, and, in their new and humble abode in the suburbs of Seville, Ines and her daughters contentedly resumed those domestic duties which they had been in the habit of performing in their quiet home in Germany. Amid these changes, the grandfather and grandmother experienced none but mere change of place, of which they hardly appeared conscious. The assiduous attention of Ines to their comforts was increased, not diminished, by the necessity of being herself the sole ministrant to them; and smiling she pleaded want of appetite, or trifling indisposition, as an excuse for her own and her children’s meal, while theirs was composed of every thing that could tempt the tasteless palate of age, or that she remembered was acceptable to theirs.

 “The cause had now come to a hearing, and for the two first days the advocates of Walberg carried all before them. On the third the ecclesiastical advocates made a firm and vigorous stand. Walberg returned much dispirited;—his wife saw it, and therefore assumed no airs of cheerfulness, which only increase the irritation of misfortune, but she was equable, and steadily and tranquilly occupied in domestic business the whole evening in his sight. As they were separating for the night, by a singular contingency, the old man again reminded his son of the forgotten hour of family prayer. “Not to-night, father,” said Walberg impatiently; “not to-night; I am—too unhappy!”—“Thus,” said the old man, lifting up his withered hands, and speaking with an energy he had not showed for years,—“thus, O my God! prosperity and adversity alike furnish us with excuses for neglecting thee!” As he tottered from the room, Walberg declined his head on the bosom of his wife, who sat beside him, and shed a few bitter tears. And Ines whispered to herself, “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit,—a broken heart he will not despise.”

* * * *

* * * *

“The cause had been carried on with a spirit and expedition that had no precedent in the courts of Spain, and the fourth day was fixed on for a final hearing and termination of the cause. The day dawned, and at the dawn of day Walberg arose, and walked for some hours before the gates of the hall of justice; and when they were opened, he entered, and sat down mechanically on a seat in the vacant hall, with the same look of profound attention, and anxious interest, that he would have assumed had the court been seated, and the cause about to be decided. After a few moment’s pause, he sighed, started, and appearing to awake from a dream, quitted his seat, and walked up and down the empty passages till the court was prepared to sit.

 “The court met early that day, and the cause was powerfully advocated. Walberg sat on one seat, without ever changing his place, till all was over; and it was then late in the evening, and he had taken no refreshment the entire day, and he had never changed his place, and he had never changed the close and corrupted atmosphere of the crowded court for a moment. Quid multis morer? The chance of a heretic stranger, against the interests of churchmen in Spain, may be calculated by the most shallow capacity.

 “The family had all that day sat in the innermost room of their humble dwelling. Everhard had wished to accompany his father to the court,—his mother withheld him. The sisters involuntarily dropt their work from time to time, and their mother gently reminded them of the necessity of renewing it. They did resume it, but their hands, at variance with their feelings, made such blunders, that their mother, greek letters, removed their work, and suggested to them some active employment in household affairs. While they were thus engaged, evening came on,—the family from time to time suspended their ordinary occupations, and crowded to the window to watch the return of their father. Their mother no longer interfered,—she sat in silence, and this silence formed a strong contrast to the restless impatience of her children. “That is my father,” exclaimed the voices of the four at once, as a figure crossed the street. “That is not my father,” they repeated, as the figure slowly retired. A knock was heard at the door,—Ines herself rushed forward to open it. A figure retreated, advanced again, and again retreated. Then it seemed to rush past her, and enter the house like a shadow. In terror she followed it, and with terror unutterable saw her husband kneeling among his children, who in vain attempted to raise him, while he continued to repeat, “No, let me kneel,—let me kneel, I have undone you all! The cause is lost, and I have made beggars of you all!”—“Rise,—rise, dearest father,” cried the children, gathering round him, “nothing is lost, if you are saved!”—“Rise, my love, from that horrible and unnatural humiliation,” cried Ines, grasping the arms of her husband; “help me, my children,—father,—mother, will you not help me?”—and as she spoke, the tottering, helpless, and almost lifeless figures of the aged grandfather and grandmother arose from their chairs, and staggering forwards, added their feeble strength,—their vis impotentiæ, to sustain or succour the weight that dragged heavily on the arms of the children and their mother. By this sight, more than by any effort, Walberg was raised from the posture that agonized his family, and placed in a chair, around which hung the wife and children, while the aged father and mother, retreating torpidly to their seats, seemed to lose in a few moments the keen consciousness of evil that had inspired them for an instant with a force almost miraculous. Ines and her children hung round Walberg, and uttered all of consolation that helpless affection could suggest; but perhaps there is not a more barbed arrow can be sent through the heart, than by the thought that the hands that clasp ours so fondly cannot earn for us or themselves the means of another meal,—that the lips that are pressed to ours so warmly, may the next ask us for bread, and—ask in vain!

 “It was perhaps fortunate for this unhappy family, that the very extremity of their grief rendered its long indulgence impossible,—the voice of necessity made itself be heard distinctly and loudly amid all the cry and clamour of that hour of agony. Something must be done for the morrow,—and it was to be done immediately. “What money have you?” was the first articulate sentence Walberg uttered to his wife; and when she whispered the small sum that the expences of their lost cause had left them, he shivered with a brief emphatic spasm of horror,—then bursting from their arms, and rising, he crossed the room, as if he wished to be alone for a moment. As he did so, he saw his youngest child playing with the long strings of his grandfather’s band,—a mode of sportive teazing in which the urchin delighted, and which was at once chid and smiled at. Walberg struck the poor child vehemently, and then catching him in his arms, bid him—“Smile as long as he could!”

* * * *

* * * *

“They had means of subsistence at least for the following week; and that was such a source of comfort to them, as it is to men who are quitting a wreck, and drifting on a bare raft with a slender provision towards some coast, which they hope to reach before it is exhausted. They sat up all that night together in earnest counsel, after Ines had taken care to see the father and mother of her husband comfortably placed in their apartment. Amid their long and melancholy conference, hope sprung up insensibly in the hearts of the speakers, and a plan was gradually formed for obtaining the means of subsistence. Walberg was to offer his talents as a musical teacher,—Ines and her daughters were to undertake embroidery,—and Everhard, who possessed exquisite taste both in music and drawing, was to make an effort in both departments, and the friendly priest was to be applied to for his needful interest and recommendation for all. The morning broke on their long-protracted consultation, and found them unwearied in discussing its subject. “We shall not starve,” said the children hopefully.—“I trust not,” said Walberg sighingly.—His wife, who knew Spain, said not a word.—”

[ End of Chapter XXVII ]

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