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light, a glimpse of Rokeby Castle; and, lost in his accustomed meditation, became blind to every other object. Bertram was little addicted to contemplation, and not at all disturbed by the fantasms of love or of poetry; but he, too, had found sufficient cause of musing in an appearance, which he knew not whether to refer to his eyes, or to his imagination. Though profoundly wicked, he was superstitious in the extreme; and during his passage through a dark and dreary grove of yews, which long tradition had declared to be haunted, he perceived, or thought he perceived, that his steps were dogged by a most unwelcome and importunate spectre. Was it a goblin-or was it some emissary of the treacherous Oswald? This doubt he proposed, somewhat abruptly, to his astonished companion; but, without waiting for an answer, rushed. forward, sword in hand, shouting with all his might, and exerting every muscle to climb the precipice by which he was inclosed.
Wilfrid, all dizzy with dismay,
See, he emerges !--desperate now
Loud thunders shake the echoing dell!—
And on the top unharmed he stands !'-p. 74.
Wilfrid, following the beaten path which wound round the rock, gradually ascended to the gates of Mortham, which he found wholly untenanted; and observed, at a short distance, the breathless and disappointed Bertram, who, with looks of gloomy astonishment, was musing over a gothic sepulchre. At this spot, the object of his pursuit had suddenly disappeared; whence he inferred, and laboured to convince his companion, that within this tomb, the treasures of Mortham were certainly deposited; and that the long-hunted fantom was some ghost, especially commissioned to guard them. To the inquiries of Wilfrid respecting the air and demeanour of the spectre, he unconsciously replied that it resembled, in every point, the very Mortham whom he had killed during the battle. This horrible confession, which the haughty assassin did not condescend to recal, instantly roused the indignation of the generous though unwarlike Wilfrid. After a bold defiance he drew his sword, and gallantly rushing on the murderer, attempted to seize and secure him. But the contest was too unequal. To wrench the weapon from his hand, and to fell him to the ground, were the work of an instant: and the blow which would have pierced his heart was already descending, when it was stopped by the nervous arm of a warrior, who, interposing his sheathed rapier, and addressing Bertram in a voice which withered every sinew, bade him depart and abstain from fresh guilt, whilst time was yet afforded him for repentance. The conscience-stricken felon, unable to withdraw his eyes from a face which he had never surveyed but with awe, and which now seemed to him to be invested with supernatural majesty, obeyed the mandate with slow and silent reluctance; and Mortham having first enjoined Wilfrid to conceal, from all mankind, the secret of his existence, hastily withdrew into another part of the forest, so as to escape the notice of a troop of horsemen, who now made their appearance.
The troop was led by Oswald, who, eagerly inquiring why the youth was alone, pale, agitated, and with his drawn sword in his hand, received for answer that he had fought with Bertram, who had avowed himself the murderer of Mortham, and, alarmed by the appearance of the troop, had fled for refuge into the wood. To a father who could not have reasonably expected the preservation of his son, from the fury of his antagonist-to a miser who could as little have anticipated the safety of a treasure which now seemed
to be secured to him by the escape of his associate in guilt,—this intelligence was most welcome; and Oswald naturally wished to abstain from pursuit of an offender, of whom the seizure might detect his own share in the offence. He therefore affected to doubt the correctness of Wilfrid's assertion, and coldly remarked, that at all events, the rigid prosecution of justice, in times of civil discord, was scarcely attainable. But an opinion thus feebly urged, by him who had the power to command, was immediately set aside at the voice of a young stranger, by whom Oswald was, at that time, accidentally accompanied. His name was Redmond O'Neale, the page and pupil of Rokeby, who, being made prisoner at Marston Moor, had been ordered on his parole to Barnard Castle, and had sent Redmond before him, to announce his arrival. Redmond had been present in the battle; had been immediately opposed to Mortham's corps; had ardently sought an opportunity of engaging in combat with that commander, and had been a spectator of the shot, by which Bertram brought him to the ground. This youth, springing from his horse, and adjuring all who heard him to join in the chase, rushed forward into the wood, followed by Wilfrid, and by the whole troop; whilst the cowardly Oswald, forgotten by his attendants, harassed by remorse, breathless with apprehensions excited by every sound, and leaning his trembling limbs against a tree, stood, an object of surprize and ridicule to the passing rustics. Meanwhile the traces of the fugitive became less and less distinct; the pursuit appeared soon to be hopeless; the soldiers returned, one by one; and, at length, though after a considerable interval, the fatigued and exhausted Wilfrid, whose report, that Redmond alone continued to persevere in the search, completely dissipated the alarms of Wycliffe. During the march back to Barnard Castle, he explains to his son that, the Redmond whom he had been so earnest to assist, is his rival, the fortunate possessor of Matilda's affection, and of her father's esteem; but urges him to persevere in his suit, and holds out to him the hope, that his mistress may yet be luced to accept his hand, as the means of effecting Rokeby's immediate deliverance.
Canto III. Bertram, accustomed as he was to brave or to elude every species of danger, would have had little to apprehend from the enemies by whom he was pursued, had they been led by Oswald himself, or by the weak and unskilful Wilfrid: but he soon perceived that his utmost strength and agility, aided by all the artifices which he had learnt during a life of robbery and piracy, were barely sufficient to preserve him against the skill and perseverance now exerted against him. Whether he scaled the rocks, or descended into the bed of the torrent, or threaded the most entangled thicket, a step as rapid as his own seemed to follow him through all his
windings; one voice, in whatever direction he moved, always startled him by its shouts; twice, when quite breathless, and compelled to couch beneath the brake, he was touched by the very boughs which were displaced by his persecutor.
Then Bertram might the bearing trace
As aspens shew the light and shade.'—p. 107.
But even Redmond was, ultimately, foiled; and Bertram was left to meditate, in perfect security, on the wonders of this eventful morning. That Mortham had fallen, by his hand, in the battle of the preceding day, he was very sure; that the same Mortham (or bis ghost) had dogged his steps through the yew-grove, had disappeared behind the tomb, and had risen from thence to disappoint
his revenge on Wilfrid, he was disposed to believe; that Oswald had betrayed him, and, with a view to secure the treasure concealed in the sepulchre, had placed an armed force under the command of Redmond for his destruction, he felt perfectly convinced: and, as Mortham, if really living, must be proof against his vengeance, he resolved to direct it, in future, against Oswald, Redmond and Wilfrid. Whilst thus occupied, a dazzling light, which seemed to be reflected from some warlike weapon, flashed across his view: he started up, gazed and listened in vain, relapsed into meditation, and was again roused by the voice of an old comrade, who welcomed him to the banks of Greta. The name of this personage was Guy Denzil; who, having drawn together a band of outlaws, and found a safe retreat for them in a cavern on the opposite side of the river, proposed to abdicate the command of them, in favour of Bertram, whose dauntless spirit could alone secure their obedience. Bertram accepts the offer; is hailed, as their leader, by the confederates in the cavern, and learns, to his surprize, during a secret conference with his friend, that the treasure which he had sought through so much guilt and danger, had been, long since, transferred to Rokeby Hall; that to gain possession of it is Denzil's present object; that he is acquainted with a secret postern which, when opened by a confederate, whom he has laid a plan for introducing into the mansion, will give them easy access to the interior, and enable them to overpower the servants by whom the treasure is guarded; and that a spy is actually employed in watching the motions of Matilda, who may, perhaps, be carried off whilst walking at a distance from her attendants, and afford them the means of extorting a large sum for her ransom. This conference is occasionally interrupted by the turbulent mirth of the crew joining in chorus with the voice and harp of a young profligate named Edmund of Winston, whom Denzil points out to Bertram as a promising agent in the prosecution of their schemes. On the arrival of a spy who reports that Matilda, accompanied only by Redmond and Wilfrid, is walking in a sequestered part of the forest, Bertram and Denzil arm themselves, and, with four associates, sally forth in quest of her.
Canto IV. The spy's information was perfectly correct. Matilda had, at this time, much to impart to Redmond and Wilfrid; and Redmond and Wilfrid had, or thought they had, at all times, much to discuss with Matilda. To Wilfrid, as a tried and trusty friend, she assigned a seat on the turf beside her; Redmond placed himself as he thought fit; that is, sufficiently nigh to hear, and join in the conference, and so as to gaze at the object of his affection without awakening her blushes.