Page images

towards the town. The gates were open; and I hastened to my father's house. My first thought was to discover what I knew of the murderer, and cause instant pursuit to be made. But I paused when I reflected on the story that I had to tell. A being whom I myself had formed, and endued with life, had met me at midnight among the precipices of an inaccessible mountain. I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly improbable. I well knew that if any other had communicated such a relation to me, I should have looked upon it as the ravings of insanity. Besides, the strange nature of the animal would elude all pursuit, even if I were so far credited as to persuade my relatives to commence it,

Besides, of what use would be pursuit * Who could arrest a creature capable of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Salève * These reflections determined me, and I resolved to remain silent. It was about five in the morning when I entered my father's house. I told the servants not to disturb the family, and went into the library to attend their usual hour of rising. Six years had elapsed, passed as a dream but for one indelible trace, and I stood in the same place where I had last embraced my father before my departure for Ingoldstadt. Beloved and respectable parent He still remained to me. I gazed on the picture of my mother, which stood over the mantlepiece. It was an historical subject, painted at my father's desire, and represented Caroline Beaufort in an agony of despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dead father. Her garb was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an air of dignity and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment of pity. Below this picture was a miniature of William ; and my tears flowed when I looked upon it. While I was thus engaged, Ernest entered: he had heard me arrive, and hastened to welcome me. He expressed a sorrowful delight to see me: “Welcome, my dearest Victor,” said he.” Ah! I wish you had come three months ago, and then you would have found us all joyous and delighted. But we are now unhappy; and, I am afraid, tears instead of similes will be your welcome. Our father looks so sorrowful : this dreadful event seems to have revived in his mind his grief on the death of Mamma. Poor Elizabeth also is quite inconsolable.” Er.

nest began to weep as he said these
“Do not,” said I, “welcome me
thus ; try to be more calm, that I may
not be absolutely miserable the moment
I enter my father's house after so long
an absence. But, tell me, how does
my father support his misfortunes 2 and
how is my poor Elizabeth ".
“She indeed requires consolation;
she accused herself of having caused
the death of my brother, and that made
her very wretched. But since the
murderer has been discovered >>
* The murderer discovered Good
God how can that be who could at-
tempt to pursue him It is impossible;
one might as well try to overtake the
winds, or confine a mountain-stream
with a straw.” -
“I do not know what you mean ;
but we were all very unhappy when

[ocr errors]

she was discovered. No one would believe it at first; and even now Elizabeth will not be convinced, notwithstanding all the evidence. Indeed, who would credit that Justine Moritz, who was so amiable, and fond of all the family, could all at once become so extremely wicked ” “Justine Moritz Poor, poor girl, is she the accused ? But it is wrongfully; every one knows that; no one believes it, surely, Ernest?” “ No one did at first; but several circumstances came out, that have almost forced conviction upon us: and her own behaviour has been so confused, as to add to the evidence of facts a weight that, I fear, leaves no hope for doubt. But she will be tried to-day, and you will then hear all.” He related that, the morning on which the murder of poor William had

« PreviousContinue »