Imatges de pàgina

some effect even on the hardened Varney, who, in the midst of his own wicked and ambitious de. signs, really loved his patron as well as such a wretch was capable of loving any thing; but he comforted himself, and subdued his self-reproach es with the reflection, that if he inflicted upon the Earl some immediate and transitory pain, it was in order to pave his way to the throne, which, were this marriage dissolved by death or otherwise, he deemed Elizabeth would willingly share . with his benefactor. He, therefore, persevered in his diabolical policy; and, after a moment's consideration, answered the anxious queries of the Earl with a melancholy look, as if he had in vain sought some exculpation for the Countess; then suddenly raising his head, he said, with an expression of hope, which instantly communicated itself to the countenance of his patron,« Yet, wherefore, if guilty, should she have pe. rilled herself by coming hither? Why not rather have fled to her father's, or elsewhere la though that, indeed, might have interfered with her desire to be acknowledged as Countess of Leicester. »

« True, true, true! »exclaimed Leicester, his transient gleam of hope giving way to the utmost bitterness of feeling and expression; « thou art not fit to fathom a woman's depth of wit, Varney. I see it all. She would not quit the estate and title of the wittol who had wedded her. Ay, and if in my madness I had started into rebellion, or if the angry Queen had taken my head, as she

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this morning threatened, the wealthy dower, which law would have assigned to the Countess Dowager of Leicester, had been no bad wind-fall to the beggarly Tressilian. Well might she goad me on to danger, which could not end otherwise than profitable to her.-Speak not for her, Varney! I will have her blood ! »

My lord, » replied Varney, the wildness of your distress breaks forth in the wildness of your language.

« I say, speak not for her, » replied Leicester; she has dishonoured mer -she would have murthered mes

all ties are burst between us. She shall die the death of a traitress and adultress, well merited both by the laws of God and man! And what is this casket, » he said , « which was even now thrust into my hand by a boy, with the desire I would convey it to Tressilian, as he could not give it to the Countess ? By Heaven! the words surprised me as he spoke them, though other matters chased them from my brain; but now they return with double force. It is her casket of jewels !-Force it open, Varney; force the hinges open with thy poniard. »

She refused the aid of my dagger once, thought Varney, as he unsheathed the weapon, to cut the string which bound a letter, but now it shall work a mightier ministry in her fortunes.

With this reflection, by using the three-cornered stiletto-blade as a wedge, he forced open the slender silver hinges of the casket. The Earl no sooner saw them give way, than he snatched

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the casket from Sir Richard's hands, wrenched off the cover, and tearing out the splendid contents, flung them on the floor in a transport of rage, while he eagerly searched for some letter or billet, which should make the fancied guilt of his innocent Countess yet more apparent. Then stamping furiously on the gems, he exclaimed, « Thus I annihilate the miserable toys for which thou hast sold thyself, body and soul, consigned thyself to an early and timeless death, and me to misery and remorse for ever! — Tell me not of forgiveness, Varney-She is doomed!»

So saying, he left the room, and rushed into an adjacent closet, the door of which he locked and bolted.

Varney looked after him, while something of a more human feeling seemed to contend with his habitual sneer. a I am sorry for his weakness,” he said, «but love has made him a child. He throws down and treads on these costly toys with the same vehemence would he dash to pieces this frailest toy of all, of which he used to rave so fondly. But that taste also will be forgotten, when its object is no more. Well, he has no eye to value things as they deserve, and that nature has given to Varney. When Leicester shall be a sovereign, he will think as little of the gales of passion, through which he gained that royal port, as ever did sailor in harbour, of the perils of a voyage. But these tell-tale articles must not remain here — they are rather too rich vails for the drudges who dress the chamber.»

While Varney was employed in gathering together and putting them into a secret drawer of a cabinet that chanced to be open, he saw the door of Leicester's closet open, the tapestry pushed aside, and the Earl's face thrust out, but with eyes so dead, and lips and cheeks so bloodless and pale, that he started at the sudden change. No sooner did his eyes encounter the Earl's than the latter withdrew his head, and shut the door of the closet. This manæuvre Leicester repeated twice, without speaking a word, so that Varney began to doubt whether his brain was not actually affected by his mental agony. The third time, however, he beckoned, and Varney obeyed the signal. When he entered, he soon found his patron's perturbation was not caused by insanity, but by the fellness of purpose which he entertained, contending with various contrary passions. They passed a full hour in close consultation; after which the Earl of Leicester, with an incredible exertion, dressed himself, and went to attend his royal guest.


You have displaced the mirth., broke the good meeting
With most admired disorder.


It was afterwards remembered, that during the banquets and revels which occupied the remainder of this eventful day, the bearing of Leicester and of Varney were totally different from their usual demeanour. Sir Richard Varniey had been held rather'a man of council and of action, than a votary of pleasure. Business, whether civil or military, seemed always to be his proper sphere; and while in festivals and revels, although he well understood how to trick them up and present them, his own part was that of a mere spectator; or if he exercised his wit, it was in a rough, caustic, and severe manner, rather as if he scoffed at the exhibition and the guests, than shared the common pleasure.

But upon the present day his character seemed changed. He mixed among the younger courtiers and ladies, and appeared for the moment to be actuated by a spirit of light-hearted gaiety, which rendered him a match for the liveliest. Those who had looked upon him as a man given

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