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- The Mysteries of Udolpho - 60/153 -
despair? But it shall not be so; you shall be mine, in spite of Montoni and all his villany.'
'In spite of Montoni!' cried Emily eagerly: 'what is it I hear?'
'You hear, that Montoni is a villain,' exclaimed Morano with vehemence,--'a villain who would have sold you to my love!--Who---'
'And is he less, who would have bought me?' said Emily, fixing on the Count an eye of calm contempt. 'Leave the room, sir, instantly,' she continued in a voice, trembling between joy and fear, 'or I will alarm the family, and you may receive that from Signor Montoni's vengeance, which I have vainly supplicated from his pity.' But Emily knew, that she was beyond the hearing of those, who might protect her.
'You can never hope any thing from his pity,' said Morano, 'he has used me infamously, and my vengeance shall pursue him. And for you, Emily, for you, he has new plans more profitable than the last, no doubt.' The gleam of hope, which the Count's former speech had revived, was now nearly extinguished by the latter; and, while Emily's countenance betrayed the emotions of her mind, he endeavoured to take advantage of the discovery.
'I lose time,' said he: 'I came not to exclaim against Montoni; I came to solicit, to plead--to Emily; to tell her all I suffer, to entreat her to save me from despair, and herself from destruction. Emily! the schemes of Montoni are insearchable, but, I warn you, they are terrible; he has no principle, when interest, or ambition leads. Can I love you, and abandon you to his power? Fly, then, fly from this gloomy prison, with a lover, who adores you! I have bribed a servant of the castle to open the gates, and, before tomorrow's dawn, you shall be far on the way to Venice.'
Emily, overcome by the sudden shock she had received, at the moment, too, when she had begun to hope for better days, now thought she saw destruction surround her on every side. Unable to reply, and almost to think, she threw herself into a chair, pale and breathless. That Montoni had formerly sold her to Morano, was very probable; that he had now withdrawn his consent to the marriage, was evident from the Count's present conduct; and it was nearly certain, that a scheme of stronger interest only could have induced the selfish Montoni to forego a plan, which he had hitherto so strenuously pursued. These reflections made her tremble at the hints, which Morano had just given, which she no longer hesitated to believe; and, while she shrunk from the new scenes of misery and oppression, that might await her in the castle of Udolpho, she was compelled to observe, that almost her only means of escaping them was by submitting herself to the protection of this man, with whom evils more certain and not less terrible appeared,--evils, upon which she could not endure to pause for an instant.
Her silence, though it was that of agony, encouraged the hopes of Morano, who watched her countenance with impatience, took again the resisting hand she had withdrawn, and, as he pressed it to his heart, again conjured her to determine immediately. 'Every moment we lose, will make our departure more dangerous,' said he: 'these few moments lost may enable Montoni to overtake us.'
'I beseech you, sir, be silent,' said Emily faintly: 'I am indeed very wretched, and wretched I must remain. Leave me--I command you, leave me to my fate.'
'Never!' cried the Count vehemently: 'let me perish first! But forgive my violence! the thought of losing you is madness. You cannot be ignorant of Montoni's character, you may be ignorant of his schemes--nay, you must be so, or you would not hesitate between my love and his power.'
'Nor do I hesitate,' said Emily.
'Let us go, then,' said Morano, eagerly kissing her hand, and rising, 'my carriage waits, below the castle walls.'
'You mistake me, sir,' said Emily. 'Allow me to thank you for the interest you express in my welfare, and to decide by my own choice. I shall remain under the protection of Signor Montoni.'
'Under his protection!' exclaimed Morano, proudly, 'his PROTECTION! Emily, why will you suffer yourself to be thus deluded? I have already told you what you have to expect from his PROTECTION.'
'And pardon me, sir, if, in this instance, I doubt mere assertion, and, to be convinced, require something approaching to proof.'
'I have now neither the time, or the means of adducing proof,' replied the Count.
'Nor have I, sir, the inclination to listen to it, if you had.'
'But you trifle with my patience and my distress,' continued Morano. 'Is a marriage with a man, who adores you, so very terrible in your eyes, that you would prefer to it all the misery, to which Montoni may condemn you in this remote prison? Some wretch must have stolen those affections, which ought to be mine, or you would not thus obstinately persist in refusing an offer, that would place you beyond the reach of oppression.' Morano walked about the room, with quick steps, and a disturbed air.
'This discourse, Count Morano, sufficiently proves, that my affections ought not to be yours,' said Emily, mildly, 'and this conduct, that I should not be placed beyond the reach of oppression, so long as I remained in your power. If you wish me to believe otherwise, cease to oppress me any longer by your presence. If you refuse this, you will compel me to expose you to the resentment of Signor Montoni.'
'Yes, let him come,' cried Morano furiously, 'and brave MY resentment! Let him dare to face once more the man he has so courageously injured; danger shall teach him morality, and vengeance justice--let him come, and receive my sword in his heart!'
The vehemence, with which this was uttered, gave Emily new cause of alarm, who arose from her chair, but her trembling frame refused to support her, and she resumed her seat;--the words died on her lips, and, when she looked wistfully towards the door of the corridor, which was locked, she considered it was impossible for her to leave the apartment, before Morano would be apprised of, and able to counteract, her intention.
Without observing her agitation, he continued to pace the room in the utmost perturbation of spirits. His darkened countenance expressed all the rage of jealousy and revenge; and a person, who had seen his features under the smile of ineffable tenderness, which he so lately assumed, would now scarcely have believed them to be the same.
'Count Morano,' said Emily, at length recovering her voice, 'calm, I entreat you, these transports, and listen to reason, if you will not to pity. You have equally misplaced your love, and your hatred.--I never could have returned the affection, with which you honour me, and certainly have never encouraged it; neither has Signor Montoni injured you, for you must have known, that he had no right to dispose of my hand, had he even possessed the power to do so. Leave, then, leave the castle, while you may with safety. Spare yourself the dreadful consequences of an unjust revenge, and the remorse of having prolonged to me these moments of suffering.'
'Is it for mine, or for Montoni's safety, that you are thus alarmed?' said Morano, coldly, and turning towards her with a look of acrimony.
'For both,' replied Emily, in a trembling voice.
'Unjust revenge!' cried the Count, resuming the abrupt tones of passion. 'Who, that looks upon that face, can imagine a punishment adequate to the injury he would have done me? Yes, I will leave the castle; but it shall not be alone. I have trifled too long. Since my prayers and my sufferings cannot prevail, force shall. I have people in waiting, who shall convey you to my carriage. Your voice will bring no succour; it cannot be heard from this remote part of the castle; submit, therefore, in silence, to go with me.'
This was an unnecessary injunction, at present; for Emily was too certain, that her call would avail her nothing; and terror had so entirely disordered her thoughts, that she knew not how to plead to Morano, but sat, mute and trembling, in her chair, till he advanced to lift her from it, when she suddenly raised herself, and, with a repulsive gesture, and a countenance of forced serenity, said, 'Count Morano! I am now in your power; but you will observe, that this is not the conduct which can win the esteem you appear so solicitous to obtain, and that you are preparing for yourself a load of remorse, in the miseries of a friendless orphan, which can never leave you. Do you believe your heart to be, indeed, so hardened, that you can look without emotion on the suffering, to which you would condemn me?'---
Emily was interrupted by the growling of the dog, who now came again from the bed, and Morano looked towards the door of the stair-case, where no person appearing, he called aloud, 'Cesario!'
'Emily,' said the Count, 'why will you reduce me to adopt this conduct? How much more willingly would I persuade, than compel you to become my wife! but, by Heaven! I will not leave you to be sold by Montoni. Yet a thought glances across my mind, that brings madness with it. I know not how to name it. It is preposterous--it cannot be.--Yet you tremble--you grow pale! It is! it is so;--you--you-- love Montoni!' cried Morano, grasping Emily's wrist, and stamping his foot on the floor.
An involuntary air of surprise appeared on her countenance. 'If you have indeed believed so,' said she, 'believe so still.'
'That look, those words confirm it,' exclaimed Morano, furiously. 'No, no, no, Montoni had a richer prize in view, than gold. But he shall not live to triumph over me!--This very instant---'
He was interrupted by the loud barking of the dog.
'Stay, Count Morano,' said Emily, terrified by his words, and by the fury expressed in his eyes, 'I will save you from this error.--Of all men, Signor Montoni is not your rival; though, if I find all other means of saving myself vain, I will try whether my voice may not arouse his servants to my succour.'
'Assertion,' replied Morano, 'at such a moment, is not to be depended upon. How could I suffer myself to doubt, even for an instant, that he could see you, and not love?--But my first care shall be to convey you from the castle. Cesario! ho,--Cesario!'
A man now appeared at the door of the stair-case, and other steps were heard ascending. Emily uttered a loud shriek, as Morano hurried her across the chamber, and, at the same moment, she heard a noise at
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