It may be
   That I can aid thee.
Manfred.         To do this, thy power
   Must wake the dead, or lay me low with them.

I am, as your conjectures have rightly assured you, of British origin; ay!—and in its highest degree—nobly born and nobly bred. There was a time, too, when flattering voices assured me that the blood of the Herberts spoke in my air, in my lofty brow, in my sternness of eye and lip; but since I have been a dweller in this land of exile, all consciousness of unavailing dignity has quailed into the drooping of despair. I dare not meet the searching eye of Heaven—w hy should I presume to brave the scrutiny of my fellow-men?—I have fallen beneath them; my glory has departed from me!

We were very young—my sister Dorathea and myself—w hen our mother died; leaving us to become the consolation of the kindest of fathers, the Lord Herbert of Wrocksley, a staunch and valued adherent to the falling cause of King James. I was scarcely ten years old when we stood together sobbing beside his knee in our black weeds; but little Dora was seven years my junior, and the innocent’s smiles of infancy soon came shining through her tears. When our father bade me take her to me to be my child, and watch over her with a mother’s heeding, I was proud of my charge,—and I loved her too; for Dora was then and ever the fairest and gentlest thing that could be moulded into a human form. My sweet, sweet sister!—how good and how fair she was!

My father willed not that we should too early encounter the enfeebling atmosphere of London. His own residence in the metropolis was that of a true courtier, arbitrary and repining; but his frequent visits to Wrocksley Court, where our childhood and youth were passed, enabled him to note with accuracy his children’s development of strength and accomplishment: I will not say our mental progress, for the inborn faculties of the mind defy such transitory observation. The rashness of his confidence indeed, announced a deficiency either of penetration or of opportunity. Unconscious of the despotic character of my disposition, he continued to place my little sister rather under my guidance than that of our common preceptress, Mistress Shirley, a weak and interested woman, in whose estimation my heirship to my father’s lands, as well as my prematurity of talent, afforded me a most undue preference. Dora was timid, and somewhat feeble in constitution: her voice was low; her step tremulous; her eyes, when harshly addressed, instantly suffused with tears: but then her smiles were of the same quick prompting; and when she flung back the fair hair from her mild blue eyes, her looks had all the soothing promise of the rainbow. Yes! my sister was indeed holy and beautiful as the visible bond of a divine covenant.

I was just eighteen when my father, anxious for my appearance at court, even under the unpropitious aspect which it already began to wear, removed me by the most unnatural transition from the lonely seclusion of Wrocksley, to the brilliant orgies of Whitehall. Yet I was not dazzled by the novelty of my position. My haughtiness of heart rendered me superior to the influence of flattery; my innate pride preserved me from the weakness of vanity.

You will readily believe that, gifted with my advantages, and protected by the lavish favour of the king, I had many suitors. It was my destiny, however, to be addressed by those only whom I regarded with indifference—indifference, tempered in some instances by contempt; in others, by aversion. The Lady Miranda Herbert was spoken of, and written of, and sighed for, as the leading beauty of the court: she was adored, but it was with that love which is akin to hatred; her ungentle scornfulness was manifest even to her worshippers; nay, when the young Lord Lovell withdrew his suit from my harsh rejection, he was moved to exclaim in parting bitterness, “Miranda, the affection you despise will one day be avenged!” In my triumph I laughed his menaces to scorn; but, woe is me! they were not uttered in vain.

I can scarcely remember through what chance of society I first became acquainted with Sir Wilmot Worsley. There was nothing sufficiently striking in his appearance to have attracted my interest had he addressed me in the deferential terms to which I was accustomed; but while his appointment in the queen’s household necessarily ensured our meeting at all the festivals of the court, I perceived that the personal charms so incessantly hymned in my ears were powerless to draw him into the little circle of my votaries. In him my vanity encountered its first obstacle; and I was too much of a woman not to determine upon

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