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'My nature was licentious and warm, but not cruel: My conduct had been imprudent, but my heart was not unprincipled. Judge then what I must have felt at being a continual witness of crimes the most horrible and revolting! Judge how I must have grieved at being united to a Man who received the unsuspecting Guest with an air of openness and hospitality, at the very moment that He meditated his destruction. Chagrin and discontent preyed upon my constitution: The few charms bestowed on me by nature withered away, and the dejection of my countenance denoted the sufferings of my heart. I was tempted a thousand times to put an end to my existence; But the remembrance of my Children held my hand. I trembled to leave my dear Boys in my Tyrant's power, and trembled yet more for their virtue than their lives. The Second was still too young to benefit by my instructions; But in the heart of my Eldest I laboured unceasingly to plant those principles, which might enable him to avoid the crimes of his Parents. He listened to me with docility, or rather with eagerness. Even at his early age, He showed that He was not calculated for the society of Villains; and the only comfort which I enjoyed among my sorrows, was to witness the dawning virtues of my Theodore.
'Such was my situation, when the perfidy of Don Alphonso's postillion conducted him to the Cottage. His youth, air, and manners interested me most forcibly in his behalf. The absence of my Husband's Sons gave me an opportunity which I had long wished to find, and I resolved to risque every thing to preserve the Stranger. The vigilance of Baptiste prevented me from warning Don Alphonso of his danger: I knew that my betraying the secret would be immediately punished with death; and however embittered was my life by calamities, I wanted courage to sacrifice it for the sake of preserving that of another Person. My only hope rested upon procuring succour from Strasbourg: At this I resolved to try; and should an opportunity offer of warning Don Alphonso of his danger unobserved, I was determined to seize it with avidity. By Baptiste's orders I went upstairs to make the Stranger's Bed: I spread upon it Sheets in which a Traveller had been murdered but a few nights before, and which still were stained with blood. I hoped that these marks would not escape the vigilance of our Guest, and that He would collect from them the designs of my perfidious Husband. Neither was this the only step which I took to preserve the Stranger. Theodore was confined to his bed by illness. I stole into his room unobserved by my Tyrant, communicated to him my project, and He entered into it with eagerness. He rose in spite of his malady, and dressed himself with all speed. I fastened one of the Sheets round his arms, and lowered him from the Window. He flew to the Stable, took Claude's Horse, and hastened to Strasbourg. Had He been accosted by the Banditti, He was to have declared himself sent upon a message by Baptiste, but fortunately He reached the Town without meeting any obstacle. Immediately upon his arrival at Strasbourg, He entreated assistance from the Magistrature: His Story passed from mouth to mouth, and at length came to the knowledge of my Lord the Baron. Anxious for the safety of his Lady, whom He knew would be upon the road that Evening, it struck him that She might have fallen into the power of the Robbers. He accompanied Theodore who guided the Soldiers towards the Cottage, and arrived just in time to save us from falling once more into the hands of our Enemies.'
Here I interrupted Marguerite to enquire why the sleepy potion had been presented to me. She said that Baptiste supposed me to have arms about me, and wished to incapacitate me from making resistance: It was a precaution which He always took, since as the Travellers had no hopes of escaping, Despair would have incited them to sell their lives dearly.
The Baron then desired Marguerite to inform him, what were her present plans. I joined him in declaring my readiness to show my gratitude to her for the preservation of my life.
'Disgusted with a world,' She replied, 'in which I have met with nothing but misfortunes, my only wish is to retire into a Convent. But first I must provide for my Children. I find that my Mother is no more, probably driven to an untimely grave by my desertion! My Father is still living; He is not an hard Man; Perhaps, Gentlemen, in spite of my ingratitude and imprudence, your intercessions may induce him to forgive me, and to take charge of his unfortunate Grand-sons. If you obtain this boon for me, you will repay my services a thousand-fold!'
Both the Baron and myself assured Marguerite, that we would spare no pains to obtain her pardon: and that even should her Father be inflexible, She need be under no apprehensions respecting the fate of her Children. I engaged myself to provide for Theodore, and the Baron promised to take the youngest under his protection.
The grateful Mother thanked us with tears for what She called generosity, but which in fact was no more than a proper sense of our obligations to her. She then left the room to put her little Boy to bed, whom fatigue and sleep had compleatly overpowered.
The Baroness, on recovering and being informed from what dangers I had rescued her, set no bounds to the expressions of her gratitude. She was joined so warmly by her Husband in pressing me to accompany them to their Castle in Bavaria, that I found it impossible to resist their entreaties. During a week which we passed at Strasbourg, the interests of Marguerite were not forgotten: In our application to her Father we succeeded as amply as we could wish. The good old Man had lost his Wife: He had no Children but this unfortunate Daughter, of whom He had received no news for almost fourteen years. He was surrounded by distant Relations, who waited with impatience for his decease in order to get possession of his money. When therefore Marguerite appeared again so unexpectedly, He considered her as a gift from heaven: He received her and her Children with open arms, and insisted upon their establishing themselves in his House without delay. The disappointed Cousins were obliged to give place. The old Man would not hear of his Daughter's retiring into a Convent: He said that She was too necessary to his happiness, and She was easily persuaded to relinquish her design. But no persuasions could induce Theodore to give up the plan which I had at first marked out for him. He had attached himself to me most sincerely during my stay at Strasbourg; and when I was on the point of leaving it, He besought me with tears to take him into my service: He set forth all his little talents in the most favourable colours, and tried to convince me that I should find him of infinite use to me upon the road. I was unwilling to charge myself with a Lad but scarcely turned of thirteen, whom I knew could only be a burthen to me: However, I could not resist the entreaties of this affectionate Youth, who in fact possessed a thousand estimable qualities. With some difficulty He persuaded his relations to let him follow me, and that permission once obtained, He was dubbed with the title of my Page. Having passed a week at Strasbourg, Theodore and myself set out for Bavaria in company with the Baron and his Lady. These Latter as well as myself had forced Marguerite to accept several presents of value, both for herself, and her youngest Son: On leaving her, I promised his Mother faithfully that I would restore Theodore to her within the year.
I have related this adventure at length, Lorenzo, that you might understand the means by which 'The Adventurer, Alphonso d'Alvarada got introduced into the Castle of Lindenberg.' Judge from this specimen how much faith should be given to your Aunt's assertions!
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The Monk -by- Matthew Lewis