Chapter 38

Euthanasia sails for Sicily, and is lost.

A little before midnight Euthanasia’s prison-chamber was unlocked, and the jailor entered, with a lamp in his hand, accompanied by one of majestic figure, and a countenance beautiful, but sad, and tarnished by the expression of pride that animated it. ‘She sleeps,’ whispered the jailor. His companion raised his finger in token of silence; and, taking the lamp from the man’s hand, approached her mattress which was spread upon the floor, and, kneeling down beside it, earnestly gazed upon that face he had known so well in happier days. She made an uneasy motion as if the lamp which he held disturbed her; he placed it on the ground and shaded it with his figure; while, by the soft light that fell upon her, he tried to read the images that were working in her mind.

She appeared but slightly altered since he had first seen her. If thought had drawn some lines in her brow, the intellect which its beautiful form expressed, effaced them to the eye of the spectator: her golden hair fell over her face and neck: he gently drew it back, while she smiled in her sleep; her smile was ever past description lovely, and one might well exclaim with Dante

Quel, ch’ ella par quando un poco sorride,
Non si puo dicer, ne tenere a mente;
Si è nuovo miracolo, e gentile.1

He gazed on her long; her white arm lay on her black dress, and he imprinted a sad kiss upon it; she awoke, and saw Castruccio gazing upon her.

She started up; ‘What does this mean?’ she cried.

His countenance, which had softened as he looked upon her, now reassumed its severe expression. ‘Madonna,’ he replied, ‘I come to take you from this place.’

She looked on him, endeavouring to read his purpose in his eyes; but she saw there no explanation of her doubts:—‘And whither do you intend to lead me?’

‘That you will know hereafter.’

She paused; and he added with a disdainful smile, ‘The countess of Valperga need not fear, while I have the power to protect her, the fate she prepared for me.’

‘What fate?’


He spoke in an under tone, but with one of those modulations of voice, which, bringing to her mind scenes of other days, was best fitted to make an impression upon her. She replied almost unconsciously—‘I did not prepare death for you; God is my witness!’

‘Well, Madonna, we will not quarrel about words; or, like lawyers, clothe our purposes in such a subtle guise, that it might deceive all, if truth did not destroy the spider’s web. I come to lead you from prison.’

‘Not thus, my lord, not thus will I be saved. I disdain any longer to assert my intentions, since I am not believed. But am I to be liberated alone; or are my friends included in your merciful intentions?’

‘Your friends are too dangerous enemies of the commonwealth, to be rescued from the fate that awaits them. Your sex, perhaps the memory of our ancient friendship, plead for you; and I do not think that it accords with your wisdom to make conditions with one who has the power to do that which best pleases him.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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