Изображения страниц

gold chain, around her neck : each time looking at herself in the mirror, and at each time seeming very much delighted at the figure she made.

As she was thus occupied, and not apparently in the slightest degree attending to the King, or thinking of what he was doing in thus rummaging her jewel box: where also, as a place of greatest safety, she kept some letters and other papers : a sudden thought seemed to strike her, and, as if recollecting herself, she started up hastily, and rushing towards him, held back his arm, and closed his hand upon a scroll of paper on which it bad at that very point of time chanced to light, and which he was drawing forth from between the trays of the casket.

"Oh, Sire!” she exclaimed, in great agitation of voice and manner,—" Pardon !—I did forget myself,-please your Grace to lay down that scroll,-it may not-indeed it may notmust not meet your Grace's eyes”

“ And wherefore so, my gentle Inez, my pretty pet,—what meanest thou? Why may I not behold it,-hast thou then ought in thy possession which thou wouldst withhold from me? It is some pretty poesy,” he continued, playfully evading her attempts to get it from him. “ It is some poesy of thine own writing, I'll engage, and thou art silly enough to be ashamed of it.”

By this time Philip had disengaged his arm from her grasp,—which was not indeed very forcible;--and had begun to look at the superscription ;-the appearance of it at the first glance startled him."

“ How! 'tis an epistle then—and to thee !"

Inez sank her head upon her bosom, and dropping both her arms, stood mutely with her hands clasped before her. The King unfolded the paper, and glanced over its contents; he lifted his eyes upon her they were inflamed with anger.

“ Inez! why- thou false one !- what is this ?-Faithless — perjured — cankered creature — whence is this?”

Inez's bosom heaved—she essayed to speak, but remained silent.

“ Inez, I say again, tell me,I command thee tell me how came this writing here?How came D'Artois to have the mad audaciousness to address thee thus in terms of love, and how camest thou to listen to them ?

“ My Lord, my good, my dearest Lord !" said Inez, covering her face with both her hands, as though afraid to behold the King. “ Con-condemn-oh, condemn me not unheard."

“ Unheard !'Tis well thou didst not say unseen, for I have seen enough to damn thee! I condemn thee-I condemn thee not-it is this scroll which doth condemn thee—thy confusion which condemns thee--all things each thing-every thing condemns thee —not I.

“Not me, not me,” replied Inez in an agony of tears, and sobbing, whilst her whole frame shook with agitation. “ Not me,--say you, my Lord say you that every thing condemns me that all things do condemn me ? - Nothing condemns me-nothing !" VOL. 1.

“ How! nothing condemns thee, Inez!Know I not my letters ? — Can I not read ?

-Is not this D'Artois' writing ?-Hold I not here—yet,” continued the King, softening his voice a little, as it occurred to him that though the writing was evidently the Count D'Artois', and though Inez's confusion seemed to justify his suspicions, yet as he had not read the letter, but only cast his eye over it, he had no right to conclude it to contain expressions of love." Stay-mayhap-let us see what it is of.”

He then again took up the letter, which in his first burst of anger he had flung down, and read as follows :

“To the most lovely, the Lady Inez.

“ Thou didst much approve a bauble which I wore, the day whereon, to suit thy fancy, I arrayed me in thy favored color. It was bestowed on me by one whom I deemed beautiful ere I beheld thee.

“I despatch it to thee with this letter, not that it is worthy of thee, but that thy worth may give it value.

“Wear it not on thy brow, lest, being thus near thine eyes, they may bring shame upon it, and make it seem to lack its usual lustre; but place it somewhere near thy heart, for the giver's sake.

“ Affairs drag me hence incontinently, but returning in a few days, I will take thine answer.

“Thine ever devoted,” “Out upon thee, traitress!”—said the King, tearing the letter, when he had finished it, into a thousand pieces and dashing them violently on the floor,—“Out on thee, shameless one! Is't thus thou dost reward my love-repay my tenderness ?

During the whole of the time that this was going on, Inez continued sobbing as though her heart would break, and tears chased each other quickly down her cheek. At length, sinking on her knee, she seized hold of the King's hand, which she bathed with tears ; and looking up piteously into his face, with a voice broken and interrupted with sighs,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »