Page:Once a Week, Series 1, Volume II Dec 1859 to June 1860.pdf/61

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January 14, 1860.]
48
ONCE A WEEK.

as other poor victims have done after him; he sees the weeds on the moat broken and streaked as the Northern lights in a winter sky; and down in the thick obscurity something white—dimly discernible. He stays another dreary interval, summoning back his ebbed strength, and plunges in and drags out, he knows not how, a dripping, disordered woman’s figure, dead—dead! the pale-face marble verily now, the deep eyes glassy and glazed. He lies down beside her on the turf where he is lord, and has not prevented her cruel murder; but in his despair an angel looks down on him, and murmurs again, weakly and fondly, “My Raoul, spare yourself!”

Yea, Sir Raoul never ceases to hear these words during the whole of his future pilgrimage and warfare: he never loses them in the utmost temptation and trial. He listens to them even when the demon Mahound is dragged before him; and amidst the furious clamour he bids them have “a life for life,” without pincers, or red-hot irons, or flaying knives. He seems to be answering them when he rides abroad once more, and his wistful eyes look over his mask and appeal to those who were wont to gaze upon him in admiration and covetousness,—who stare stealthily in wonder and vague regret now,—appeal half haughtily and fierily, half eagerly and tenderly, “You see me disfigured and mutilated in vain, for her who in life could not forgive me, but who in death declared herself mine. I do not grudge it for Dovach.”

Sir Raoul might be less dreaded, bearing the sad marks of his love, but more clave unto him; for, inexplicable as it was to many, he was a more sober-minded and merciful man after his misfortune than before it. Heaven grant that we too, like this wild, lawless Sir Raoul, may show ourselves purged and purified by adversity; that our chronicler may have reason to quote of us what was indited of Job: “The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.”




A WALK UP-STAIRS.

alt = Fenestrelle Fortress
An ingenious French writer filled a decent-sized volume with, “Un voyage autour de ma chambre.” The reader will be here invited to walk up-stairs with us only through a very short paper. Yet it is a long walk up-stairs—possibly the longest in Europe, or perhaps in the world. Fancy starting to go up-stairs, and at the end of an hour and a-half of steady mounting, finding that the top flight is not even then attained. Such stairs would soon cure (or kill) short memories; for it would never do to forget gloves, keys, or handkerchief, and have just to run up-stairs again for them. You observe that no house can possibly contain such a staircase. Certainly not. Not the eight-