« 이전계속 »
slowly, slowly, crush me in their iron comprehended all the meaning of the arms! Lord God ! look down upon me, diminished height of the former, as well and in mercy strike me with instant as of the gradual approximation of the death! Oh, fiend-oh, devil—is this latter. The contracted dimensions of your revenge re?”
his mysterious prison were now too gross He dashed himself upon the ground and palpable to be the juggle of his in agony ;--tears burst from him, and heated imagination. Still lost in wonder the sweat stood in large drops upon his at the means, Vivenzio could put no face-he sobbed aloud-he tore his hair cheat upon his reason as to the end. By -he rolled about like one suffering in- what horrible ingenuity it was contrived, tolerable anguish of body, and would that walls, and roof, and windows, should have bitten the iron floor beneath him; thus silently and imperceptibly, without he breathed fearful curses upon Tolfi, noise, and without motion almost, fold, and the next moment passionate prayers as it were, within each other, he knew to heaven for immediate death. Then not. He only knew they did so; and the violence of his grief became ex- he vainly strove to persuade himself it hausted, and he lay still, weeping as a was the intention of the contriver, to child would weep. The twilight of de- rack the miserable wretch who might be parting day shed its gloom around him immured there, with anticipation, merely, ere he arose from that posture of utter of a fate, from which, in the very crisis and hopeless sorrow. He had taken no of his agony, he was to be reprieved. food. Not one drop of water had cooled Gladly would he have clung even to the fever of his parched lips. Sleep had this possibility, if his heart would have not visited his eyes for six and thirty let him ; but he felt a dreadful assurance hours. He was faint with hunger; weary of its fallacy. And what matchless in. with watching, and with the excess of humanity it was to doom the sufferer to his emotions. He tasted of his food; such lingering torments—to lead him he drank with avidity of the water ; and day by day to so appalling a death, unreeling like a drunken man to his straw, supported by the consolations of religion, cast himself upon it to brood again over unvisited by any human being, aban. the appalling image that had fastened doned to himself, deserted of all, and itself upon his almost frenzied thoughts. denied even the sad privilege of knowing
But his slumbers were that his cruel dertiny would awaken pity! not tranquil. He resisted, as long as he Alone he was to perish !-alone he was could, their approach ; and when, at to wait a slow coming torture, whose last, enfeebled nature yielded to their most exquisite pangs would be inflicted influence, he found no oblivion from his by that very solitude and that tardy cares. Terrible dreams haunted him— coming! ghastly visions harrowed up his imagina- “ It is not death I fear,” he exclaimed, tion—he shouted and screamed, as if “but the death I must prepare for! he already felt the dungeon's ponderous Methinks, too, I could meet even that roof descending on him-he breathed all horrible and revolting as it is—if it hard and thick, as though writhing be- might overtake me now. But where tween its iron walls. Then would he shall I find fortitude to tarry till it come?
-stare wildly about him— How can I outlive the three long days stretch forth his hands, to be sure he yet and nights I have to live? There is no had space enough to live-and, muttering power within me to bid the hideous some incoherent words, sink down again, spectre hence--none to make it familiar to pass through the same fierce vicissi- to my thoughts; or myself, patient of its tudes of delirious sleep.
errand. My thoughts, rather, will flee The morning of the fourth day dawned from me, and I grow mad in looking at upon Vivenzio. But it was high noon it. Oh! for a deep sleep to fall upon before his mind shook off its stupor, or
That so, in death's likeness, I he awoke to a full consciousness of his might embrace death itself, and drink situation. And what a fixed energy of no more of the cup that is presented to despair sat upon his pale features, as he me, than my fainting spirit has already cast his eyes upwards, and gazed upon tasted !" the THREE windows that now alone re- In the midst of these lamentations,
The three !-there were no Vivenzio noticed that his accustomed more l-and they seemed to number his meal, with the pitcher of water, had been own allotted days.
Slowly and calmly conveyed, as before, into his dungeon. he next surveyed the top and sides, and But this circumstance no longer excited
his surprise. His mind was overwhelmed frantic wailings. With folded arms, and with others of a far greater magnitude. clenched teeth, with eyes that were It suggested, however, a feeble hope of blood-shot from much watching, and deliverance; and there is no hope so fixed with a vacant glare upon the ground, feeble as not to yield some support to a with a hard quick breathing, and a heart bending under despair. He re- hurried walk, he strode backwards and solved to watch, during the ensuing forwards in silent musing for several night, for the signs he had before ob- hours. What mind shall conceive, what served ; and should he again feel the tongue utter, or what pen describe the gentle, tremulous motion of the floor, dark and terrible character of his or the current of air, to seize that mo- thoughts? Like the fate that moulded ment for giving audible expression to them, they had no similitude in the wide his misery. Some person must be near range of this world's agony for man. him, and within reach of his voice, at the Suddenly he stopped, and his eyes were instant when his food was supplied ; . riveted upon that part of the wall which some one, perhaps, susceptible of pity. was over his bed of straw. Words are Or if not, to be told even that his ap- inscribed there! A human language, prehensions were just, and that his fate traced by a human hand! He rushes was to be what he foreboded, would be towards them ; but his blood freezes as preferable to a suspense which hung upon he reads :the possibility of his worst fears being “I, Ludovico Sforza, tempted by the visionary
gold of the Prince of Tolfi, spent three The night came ; and as the hour ap- years in contriving and executing this proached when Vivenzio imagined he accursed triumph of my art. When it might expect the signs, he stood fixed was completed, the perfidious Tolfi, more and silent as a statue. He feared to devil than man, who conducted me breathe, almost, lest he might lose any hither one morning, to be witness, as he sound which would warn him of their said, of its perfection, doomed me to be coming While thus listening, with the first victim of my own pernicious every faculty of mind and body strained skill ; lest, as he declared, I should dito an agony of attention, it occurred to vulge the secret, or repeat the effort of him he should be more sensible of the my ingenuity. May God pardon him, motion, probably, if he stretched him- as I hope he will me, that ministered to self along the iron floor. He accordingly his unhallowed purpose ! Miserable laid himself softly down, and had not wretch, whoe'er thou art, that readest been lo
in that position when-yes- these lines, fall thy knees, and inhe was certain of it—the floor moved voke, as I have done, His sustaining under him! He sprang up, and in a mercy, who alone can nerve thee to voice suffocated nearly with emotion, meet the vengeance of Tolfi, armed with called aloud. He paused—the motion his tremendous engine, which, in a few ceased-he felt no stream of air-all was hours, must crush you, as it will the hushed-no voice answered to his--he needy wretch who made it." burst into tears ; and as he sunk to the A deep groan burst from Vivenzio. ground, in renewed anguish, exclaimed, He stood, like one transfixed, with di—“Oh, my God! my God! You alone lated eyes, expanded nostrils, and quivhave power to save me now, or strengthen ering lips, gazing at this fatal inscription. me for the trial you permit.”
It was as if a voice from the sepulchre Another morning dawned upon the had sounded in his ears, “ Prepare !” wretched captive, and the fatal index Hope forsook him. There was his senof his doom met his eyes. Two windows ! tence, recorded in those dismal words. —and two days and all would be over! The future stood unveiled before him, Fresh food-fresh water ! The mys- ghastly and appalling. His brain already terious visit had been paid, though he feels the descending horror,—his bones had implored it in vain. But how aw- seem to crack and crumble in the mighty fully was his prayer answered in what grasp of the iron walls ! Unknowing he now saw ! The roof of the dungeon what it is he does, he fumbles in his garwas within a foot of his head. The two ment for some weapon of self-destrucends were so near, that in six paces he tion. He clenches his throat in his trod the space between them. Vivenzio convulsive gripe, as though he would shuddered as he gazed, and as his steps strangle himself at once. He stares traversed the narrowed area. But his upon the walls, and his warring spirit feelings no longer vented themselves in demands,“ Will they not anticipate their
office if I dash my head against them ?" crown to sole, hunted forth to gasp out An hysterical laugh chokes him as he ex- the remnant of infectious life beneath claims, "Why should I? He was but those verdant trees, so he might shun a man who died first in their fierce em- the destiny upon whose edge he tottered ! brace; and I should be less than man not Vain thoughts like these would steal to do as much !"
over his mind from time to time, in spite The evening sun was descending, and of himself ; but they scarcely moved it Vivenzio beheld its golden beams from that stupor into which it had sunk, streaming through one of the windows. and which kept him, during the whole What a thrill of joy shot through his night, like one who had been drugged soul at the sight! It was a precious link, with opium. He was equally insensible that united him, for the moment, with to the calls of hunger and of thirst, the world beyond. There was ecstasy though the third day was now commencin the thought. As he gazed, long and ing since even a drop of water had passed earnestly, it seemed as if the windows his lips. He remained on the ground, had lowered sufficiently for him to reach sometimes sitting, sometimes lying ; at them. With one bound he was beneath intervals, sleeping heavily; and when them—with one wild spring he clung to not sleeping, silently brooding over what the bars. Whether it was so contrived, was to come, or talking aloud, in dispurposely to madden with delight the ordered speech, of his wrongs, of his wretch who looked, he knew not; but, friends, of his home, and of those he loved, at the extremity of a long vista, cut with a confused mingling of all. through the solid rocks, the ocean, the In this pitiable condition, the sixth sky, the setting sun, olive groves, shady and last morning dawned upon Vivenzio, walks, and, in the farthest distance, if dawn it might be called—the dim, obdelicious glimpses of magnificent Sicily, scure light which faintly struggled through burst upon his sight. How exquisite the ONE SOLITARY window of his dunwas the cool breeze as it swept across geon. He could hardly be said to notice his cheek, loaded with fragrance! He the melancholy token. And yet he did inhaled it as though it were the breath notice it; for as he raised his eyes and of continued life. And there was a saw the portentous sign, there was a freshness in the landscape, and in the slight convulsive distortion of his counrippling of the calm green sea, that fell tenance. But what did attract his no. upon his withering heart like dew upon tice, and at the sight of which his agithe parched earth. How he gazed, and tation was excessive, was the change his panted, and still clung to his hold ! some- iron bed had undergone. It was a bed times hanging by one hand, sometimes no longer. It stood before him, the by the other, and then grasping the bars visible semblance of a funeral couch or with both, as loth to quit the smiling bier! When he beheld this, he started paradise outstretched before him ; till from the ground ; and, in raising himexhausted, and his hands swollen and self, suddenly struck his head against benumbed, he dropped helpless down, the roof, which was now so low that he and lay stunned for a considerable time could no longer stand upright.
" God's by the fall.
will be done!” was all he said, as he When he recovered, the glorious crouched his body, and placed his hand vision had vanished. He was in dark- upon the bier ; for such it was. The
He doubted whether it was not iron bedstead had been so contrived, by a dream that had passed before his sleep. the mechanical art of Ludovico Sforza, ing fancy ; but gradually his scattered that as the advancing walls came in conthoughts returned, and with them came tact with its head and feet, a pressure remembrance. Yes! he had looked was produced upon concealed springs, once again upon the gorgeous splendour which, when made to play, set in motion of nature ! Once again his eyes had a very simple though ingeniously contrembled beneath their veiled lids, at the trived machinery, that effected the transsun's radiance, and sought repose in the formation. The object was, of course, soft verdure of the olive-tree, or the to heighten, in the closing scene of this gentle swell of undulating waves. Oh, horrible drama, all the feelings of despair that he were a mariner, exposed upon and anguish, which the preceding ones those waves to the worst fury of storm had aroused. For the same reason, the and tempest; or a very wretch, loath- last window was so made as to admit some with disease, plague-stricken, and only a shadowy kind of gloom rather his body one leprous contagion from than light, that the wretched captive
might be surrounded, as it were, with
BEAUTY. every seeming preparation for approaching death.
O'ER a swift, bright streamlet flowing, Vivenzio seated himself on his bier, A rose stooped down one day, Then he knelt and prayed fervently; and To catch in the limpid waters flowing, sometimes tears would gush from him. Her blushing image gay ; The air seemed thick, and he breathed But the breeze of morn came freshly by, with difficulty; or it might be that he And brushed the vain rose impetuously, fancied it was so, from the hot and nar. Rending each tender leaf away. row limits of his dungeon, which were The leaves fell down the waves among, now so diminished that he could neither And they bore them, rushing for ever stand up nor lie down at his full length. along,
But his wasted spirits and oppressed Far, far to the hungry sea. mind no longer struggled within him. Thus rapidly, O God I still flies, He was past hope, and fear shook him Adown Time's checkless river, no more. Happy if thus revenge had The loveliness that most we prize, struck its final blow ; for he would have From our fond eyes for ever. fallen beneath it almost unconscious of a pang. But such a lethargy of the soul, after such an excitement of its fiercest THE LAW OF ARREST, passions, had entered into the diabolical calculations of Tolfi ; and the fell arti. Once upon a time there lived at Hamficer of his designs had imagined a coun. burgh a certain merchant of the name teracting device.
of Meyer-he was a good little man ; The tolling of an enormous bell struck charitable to the poor,
hospitable to his upon the ears of Vivenzio! He started. friends, and so rich that he was extremeIt beat but once. The sound was so ly respected, in spite of his good nature. close and stunning, that it seemed to Among that part of his property which shatter his very brain, while it echoed was vested in other people's hands, and through the rocky passages like rever- called debts, was the sum of five hunberating peals of thunder.
dred pounds owed to him by the Capfollowed by a sudden crash of the roof tain of an English vessel. This debt and walls, as if they were about to fall had been so long contracted, that the upon and close around him at once. worthy Meyer began to wish for a new Vivenzio screamed, and instinctively investment of his capital. He accordspread forth his arms, as though he had ingly resolved to take a trip to Portsa giant's strength to hold them back. mouth, in which town Captain Jones They had moved nearer to him, and were was then residing, and take that liberty, now motionless. Vivenzio looked up, which, in my opinion, should in a free and saw the roof almost touching his country never be permitted, viz. the head, even as he sat cowering beneath liberty of applying for his money. it; and he felt that a farther contraction Our worthy merchant one bright mornof but a few inches only must commence ing found himself at Portsmouth ; he the frightful operation. Roused as he
was a stranger to that town, but not had been, he now gasped for breath. unacquainted altogether with the EngHis body shook violently-he was bent lish language. He lost no time in callnearly double. His hands rested upon ing on Captain Jones. either wall, and his feet were drawn “ And vat ?:' said he to a man whom under him to avoid the pressure in front. he asked to show him to the Captain's Thus he remained for more than an hour, house, “vat is dat fine veshell yonwhen that deafening bell beat again, and dare?! again there came the crash of horrid “ She be the Royal Sally," replied death. But the concussion was now so
“bound for Calcutta-sails great that it struck Vivenzio down. As to-morrow; but here's Captain Jones's he lay gathered up in lessened bulk, the house, sir, and he'll tell you all about bell beat loud and frequent-crash suc- it." ceeded crash-and on, and on, and on The merchant bowed, and knocked at came the mysterious engine of death, till the door of a red brick house-door Vivenzio's smothered groans were heard green-brass knocker. Captain Gregory no more! He was horribly crushed by Jones was a tall man ; he wore a blue the ponderous roof and collapsing sides- coat without skirts ; he had high cheek and the flattened bier was his Iron Shroud. bones, small eyes, and his whole appear
ance was eloquent of what is generally “I, sir, crime !" quoth the prisoner ; termed the bluff honesty of the seaman. “Sir, I was going to Liverpool to vote
Captain Jones seemed somewhat at the election, when a friend of the disconcerted at seeing his friend-he opposite candidate had me suddenly arbegged for a little further time. The rested for 2,0001. Before I get bail, the merchant looked grave—three years had election will be over!” already elapsed. The captain demurred “ Vat's that you tell me? arrest you -the merchant pressed — the captain to prevent your giving an honesht vote? blustered—and the merchant, growing is that justice ?” angry, began to threaten.
All of a
“Justice, no!" cried our friend, “it's sudden Captain Jones's manner changed the law of arrest." --he seemed to recollect himself, begged “And vat be you in prishon for ?" pardon, said he could easily procure the said the merchant, pityingly, to a thin money, desired the merchant to go back cadaverous-looking object, who ever and to his inn, and promised to call on him anon applied a handkerchief to eyes that in the course of the day. Mynheer were worn with weeping. Meyer went home, and ordered an excel- “An attorney offered a friend of mine lent dinner. Time passed—his friend to discount a bill, if he could obtain a came not. Meyer grew impatient. He few names to indorse it—1, sir, indorsed had just put on his hat and was walking it. The bill became due, the next day out, when the waiter threw open the the attorney arrested all whose names door, and announced two gentlemen. were on the bill; there were eight of us, dere
de monish,” the law allows him to charge two guithought Mynheer Meyer. The gentle- neas for each ; there are sixteen guimen approached-the taller one whipped neas, sir, for the lawyer—but I, sirout what seemed to Meyer a receipt. alas! my family will starve before I shall “Ah, ver well, I vill sign, ver well!” be released. Sir, there are a set of men
"Signing, sir, is useless; you will called discounting attorneys, who live be kind enough to accompany us. This upon the profits of entrapping and are is a warrant for debt, sir; my house is resting us poor folk." extremely comfortable — gentlemen of “Mine Gott! but is dat justice ?" the first fashion go there quite mode- “ Alas! no, sir, it is the law of rate, too, only a guinea a day-find your arrest." own wine."
But," " said the merchant, turning “I do-no--understand, sare,'' said round to a lawyer, whom the Devil had the merchant, smiling amiably, “I am deserted, and who was now with the ver well off here-thank you
victims of his profession; “ dey tell me, “Come, come," said the other gen- dat in Englant a man be called innoshent tleman, speaking for the first time, till he be proved guilty; but here am I, parlavoo Monsoo, you are our prisoner who, because von carrion of a shailor, --this is a warrant for the sum of 10,0001. who owesh me five hundred pounts, due to Captain Gregory Jones.”
takes an oath that I owe him ten thouThe merchant stared--the merchant sand-here am I, on that schoundrel's frowned —but so it was. Captain Gre- single oath, clapped up in a prishon. gory Jones, who owed Mynheer Meyer Is this a man's being innoshent till he 5001., had arrested Mynheer Meyer for is proved guilty, sare?” 10,0001. ; for, as every one knows, any iSir," said the lawyer, primly, “you man may arrest us who has conscience are thinking of criminal cases ; but if a enough to swear that we owe him money. man be unfortunate enough to get into Where was Mynheer Meyer in a strange debt, that is quite a different thing :town to get bail? Mynheer Meyer went we are harder to poverty than we are to to prison.
crime !" “Dis be a strange vay of paying a “But, mine Gott! is that justice ?" man his monish!” said Mynheer Meyer. “ Justice! pooh! it's the law of ar
In order to wile away time, our rest,” said the lawyer, turning on his merchant, who was wonderfully social, heel. scraped acquaintance with some of his Our merchant was liberated ; no one fellow-prisoners.
“Vat be you in pri- appeared to prove the debt. He flew to shon for?” said he to a stout respect- a magistrate ; he told his case ; he imable-looking man, who seemed in a vio- plored justice against Captain Jones. lent passion—" for hat crime?"
“Captain Jones!" said the gistrate,