Chapter 30

Beatrice’s Narrative.

She was awakened from this reverie by the voice of Beatrice, who called to her to come near. ‘I am quite recovered,’ she said, ‘though weak; I have been very ill to-day, and I am frightened to think of the violence of my sensations. But sit near me, beloved friend; it is now night, and you will hear no sound but my feeble voice; while I fulfil my promise of relating to you my wretched history.’

‘Mine own Beatrice, do not now vex yourself with these recollections; you must seek calm and peace alone; let memory go to its grave.’

‘Nay, you must know all,’ replied Beatrice, peevishly; ‘why do you balk me? indeed I do best when I follow my own smallest inclinations; for, when I try to combat them, I am again ill, as I was this morning. Sit beside me; I will make room for you on my couch; give me your hand, but turn away your soft eyes; and now I will tell you every thing.

‘You know that I loved Castruccio; how much I need hardly tell: I loved him beyond human love, for I thought heaven itself had interfered to unite us. I thought——alas! it is with aching pain that I recollect my wild dreams,—that we two were chosen from the rest of the world, gifted with celestial faculties. It appeared to me to be a dispensation of Providence, that I should have met him at the full height of my glory, when I was burning with triumph and joy. I do not think, my own Euthanasia, that you can ever have experienced the vigour and fire of my sensations. Victory in an almost desperate struggle, success in art, love itself, are earthly feelings, subject to change and death; but, when these three most exquisite sensations are bestowed by the visible intervention of heaven, thus giving security to the unstable, and eternity to what is fleeting, such an event fills the over-brimming cup, intoxicates the brain, and renders her who feels them more than mortal.

‘Victory and glory I had, and an assurance of divine inspiration; the fame of what I was, was spread among the people of my country; then love came, and flattered, and softened, and overcame me. Well, that I will pass over: to conceive that all I felt was human, common, and now faded, disgusts me, and makes me look back with horror to my lost paradise. Castruccio left me; and I sat I cannot tell how long, white, immoveable, and intranced; hours, I believe days, passed; I cannot tell, for in truth I think I was mad. Yet I was silent; not a word, not a tear, not a sound escaped me, until some one mentioned the name of Castruccio before me, and then I wept. I did not rave or weep aloud; I crept about like a shadow, brooding over my own thoughts, and trying to divine the mystery of my destiny.

‘At length, I went to my good father, the bishop; I knelt down before him: “Rise, dear child,” he said; “how pale you are! what has quenched the fire of your brilliant eyes?”

‘ “Father, holy father,” I replied, “I will not rise till you answer me one question.”—My looks were haggard with want of rest; my tangled locks fell on my neck; my glazed eyes could scarcely distinguish any object.

‘ “My blessed Beatrice,” said the good old man, “you are much unlike yourself: but speak; I know that you can ask nothing that I can refuse to tell.”

‘ “Tell me then, by your hopes of heaven,” I cried, “whether fraud was used in the Judgement of God that I underwent, or how I escaped the fearful burning of the hot shares.”

‘Tears started in my father’s eyes; he rose, and embraced me, and, lifting me up, said with passion,—“Thank God! my prayers are fulfilled. Beatrice, you shall not be deceived, you will no longer deceive yourself; and do not be unhappy, but joy that the deceit is removed from you, and that you may return from your wild and feverish extacies to a true and real piety.”

‘ “This is all well,” I replied calmly; “but tell me truly how it happened.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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