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Scraps.—A Dutchman's Defence for The Eastern Girl
pointed Love-Epigram—the Age 208 Sight— Power of Love, &c. &c. 304
Notes of a Reader--The Duke of Notes of a Reader.- Greatness
225 of MindWoman Common-
The Biography of the Rose
ib. Pasquali, The Tailor of Venice, Il-
The object of the present work may be stated in few words—the supplying at the smallest possible expense, a series of Tales original and translated by the most eminent English and Foreign authors, together with selections of the choicest kind from poetry, romance, and general literature. Hitherto this has been only attainable through works of the most costly kind, or expensive periodicals, while in the "FLOWERS OF FICTION” they will be placed within the reach of all classes—a feature calculated to insure the widest circulation and patronage. It will be the constant aim of the conductors to vary its contents, administering by turn to the public taste for the humorous, the pathetic, and the sarcastic, and at the same time give it a character for moral purity, soundness of instruction, and innocent entertainment, excluding from its pages every thing calculated to disturb either religious or political prepossessions.
THE IRON SHROUD.
ed. Here, too, in a dungeon, excavated
deep in the solid rock, the miserable The castle of the Prince of Tolfi was victim was immured, whom revenge purbuilt on the summit of the towering and sued,—the dark, fierce, and unpitying precipitous rock of Scylla, and com- revenge of an Italian heart. manded a magnificent view of Sicily in Vivenzio—the noble and the generous, all its grandeur. Here, during the wars the fearless in battle, and the pride of of the middle ages, when the fertile plains Naples in her sunny hours of peace—the of Italy were devastated by hostile fac- young, the brave, the proud Vivenzio tions, those prisoners were confined, for fell beneath this subtle and remorseless whose ransom a costly price was demand- spirit. He was the prisoner of Tolfi, and
Vol. 1. (1.)
he languished in that rock-encircled dun- flicted it, and he had not. It was too geon, which stood alone, and whose por- evident, therefore, he was reserved for tals never opened twice upon a living some premeditated scheme of subtle captive.
vengeance; and what vengeance could It had the semblance of a vast cage, transcend in fiendish malice, either the for the roof, and floor, and sides, were slow death of famine, or the still slowerone of iron, solidly wrought, and spaciously of solitary incarceration, till the last linconstructed. High above there ran a gering spark of life expired, or till reason range of seven grated windows, guarded Aed, and nothing should remain to perish with massy bars of the same metal, which but the brute functions of the body? admitted light and air. Save these, and It was evening when Vivenzio entered the tall folding doors beneath them, his dungeon, and the approaching shades which occupied the centre, no chink, or of night wrapped it in total darkness, as chasm, or projection, broke the smooth he paced up and down, revolving in his black surface of the walls. An iron bed- mind these horrible forebodings. No stead, littered with straw, stood in one tolling bell from the castle, or from any corner: and beside it, a vessel with water, neighbouring church or convent, struck and a coarse dish filled with coarser food. upon his ear to tell how the hours passed.
Even the intrepid soul of Vivenzio Frequently he would stop and listen for shrunk with dismay as he entered this some sound that might betoken the abode, and heard the ponderous doors vicinity of man; but the solitude of the triple-locked by the silent ruffians who desert, the silence of the tomb, are not conducted him to it. Their silence so still and deep, as the oppressive desoseemed prophetic of his fate, of the living lation by which he was encompassed. grave that had been prepared for him. His heart sunk within him, and he threw His menaces and his entreaties, his in- himself dejectedly upon his couch of dignant appeals for justice, and his im- straw. Here sleep gradually obliterated patient questioning of their intentions, the consciousness of misery, and bland were alike vain. They listened, but dreams wafted his delighted spirit to spoke not. Fit ministers of a crime that scenes which were once glowing realities should have no tongue.
for him, in whose ravishing illusions he How dismal was the sound of their soon lost the remembrance that he was retiring steps ! And, as their faint echoes Tolfi's prisoner. died along the winding passages, a fear
When he awoke, it was daylight; but ful presage grew within him, that never how long he had slept he knew not. It more the face, or voice, or tread, of man, might be early morning, or it might be would greet his senses. He had seen sultry noon, for he could measure time human beings for the last time! And he by no other note of its progress than had looked his last upon the bright sky, light and darkness. He had been so and upon the smiling earth, and upon a happy in his sleep, amid friends who beautiful world he loved, and whose loved him, and the sweeter endearments minion he had been ! Here he was to of those who loved him as friends could end his life-a life he had just begun to not, that in the first moments of waking, revel in ! And by what means? By secret his startled mind seemed to admit the poison? or by murderous assault ? No knowledge of his situation, as if it had
-for then it had been needless to bring burst upon it for the first time, fresh in him thither. Famine perhaps--a thou- all its appalling horrors. sand deaths in one! It was terrible to round with an air of doubt and amazethink of it—but it was yet more terrible ment, and took up a handful of the straw to picture long, long years of captivity, apon which he lay, as though he would in a solitude so appalling, a loneliness so
ask himself what it meant. But memory, dreary, that thought, for want of fellow- too faithful to her office, soon unveiled ship, would lose itself in madness, or the melancholy past, while reason, shud. stagnate into idiocy.
dering at the task, flashed before his He could not hope to escape, unless eyes the tremendous future. The con. he had the power, with his bare hands, trast overpowered him. He remained of rending asunder the solid iron walls of for some time lamenting, like a truth, his prison. He could not hope for li- the bright visions that had vanished; berty from the relenting mercies of his and recoiling from the present, which enemy. His instant death, under any clung to him as a poisoned garment. form of refined cruelty, was not the When he grew more calm, he surveyed object of Tolfi, for he might have in- his gloomy dungeon. Alas! the stronger
He gazed light of day only served to confirm what observe when the person came again to the gloomy indistinctness the preced- bring him food, which he supposed he ing evening had partially disclosed, the would do in the same way as before. utter impossibility of escape. As, how- The mere thought of being approached ever, his eyes wandered round and round, hy a living creature, and the opportunity and from place to place, he noticed two it might present of learning the doom circumstances which excited his surprise prepared, or preparing, for him, imparted and curiosity. The one, he thought, some comfort. Besides, if he came might be fancy; but the other, was alone, might he not in a furious onset positive. His pitcher of water, and the overpower him? Or he might be accesdish which contained his food, had been sible to pity, or the influence of such removed from his side while he slept, munificent rewards as he could bestow, and now stood near the door. Where he if once more at liberty and master of even inclined to doubt this, by supposing himself. Say he were armed. The he had mistaken the spot where he saw worst that could befall, if nor bribe, nor them over night, he could not, for the prayers, nor force prevailed, was a faithpitcher pow in his dungeon was neither ful blow, which, though dealt in a damned of the same form nor colour as the other, cause, might work a desired end. There while the food was changed for some was no chance so desperate, but it looked other of better quality. He had been lovely in Vivenzio's eyes, compared with visited therefore during the night. But the idea of being totally abandoned. how had the person obtained entrance ? The night came, and Vivenzio watched. Could he have slept so soundly, that the Morning came, and Vivenzio was conunlocking and opening of those pon- founded ! He must have slumbered derous portals were effected without without knowing it. Sleep must have waking him ? He would have said this stolen over him when exhausted by was not possible, but that in doing so, he fatigue, and in that inverval of feverish must admit a greater difficulty, an en- repose, he had been baffled ; for there trance by other means, of which he was stood his replenished pitcher of water, convinced there existed none.
and there his day's meal ! Nor was this not intended, then, that he should be left all. Casting his looks towards the winto perish from hunger. But the secret dows of his dungeon, he counted but and mysterious mode of supplying him FIVE! Here was no deception ; and he with food, seemed to indicate he was to was now convinced there had been none have no opportunity of communicating the day before. But what did all this with a human being.
portend ? Into what strange and mysteThe other circumstance which had rious den had he been cast? He gazed attracted his notice, was the disappear- till his eyes ached; he could discover ance, as he believed, of one of the seven nothing to explain the mystery. That grated windows that ran along the top of it was so, he knew. Why it was so, he his prison. He felt confident that he racked his imagination in vain to conhad observed and counted them; for he jecture. He examined the doors. A was rather surprised at their number, simple circumstance convinced him they and there was something peculiar in their had not been opened. form, as well as in the manner of their A wisp of straw, which he had carearrangement, at unequal distances. It lessly thrown against them the preceding was so much easier, however, to suppose day, as he paced to and fro, remained he was mistaken, than that a portion of where he had cast it, though it must the solid iron, which formed the walls, have been displaced by the slightest could have escaped from its position, that motion of either of the doors. This was he soon dismissed the thought from his evidence that could not be disputed ; mind.
and it followed there must be some secret Vivenzio partook of the food that was machinery in the walls by which a person before him, without apprehension. It could enter. He inspected them closely. might be poisoned; but if it were, he They appeared to him one solid and knew he could not escape death, should compact mass of iron ; or joined, if such be the design of Tolfi, and the joined they were, with such nice art, that quickest death would be the speediest no mark of division was perceptible.
Again and again he surveyed them-and The day passed wearily and gloomily; the floor and the roof and that range though not without a faint hope that, of visionary windows, as he was now by keeping watch at night, he might almost tempted to consider them: he
could discover nothing, absolutely no- the wall, stood the one he had noticed thing, to relieve his doubts or satisfy his the first night. It was filled with water, curiosity. Sometimes he fancied that and beside it was his food. altogether the dungeon had a more con- now certain, that, by some mechanical tracted appearance that it looked contrivance, an opening was obtained smaller ; but this he ascribed to fancy, through the iron wall, and that through and the impression naturally produced this opening the current of air had found upon his mind by the undeniable disap- entrance. But how noiseless! For had pearance of two of the windows.
a feather almost waved at the time, he With intense anxiety, Vivenzio looked must have heard it. Again he examined forward to the return of night; and as that part of the wall; but both to sight it approached, he resolved that no trea- and touch it appeared one even and cherous sleep should again betray him. uniform surface, while to repeated and Instead of seeking his bed of straw, he violent blows, there was no reverberating continued to walk up and down his dun- sound indicative of hollowness. geon till daylight, straining his eyes in This perplexing mystery had for a every direction through the darkness, to time withdrawn his thoughts from the watch for any appearances that might windows ; but now, directing his eyes explain these mysteries. While thus again towards them, he saw that the engaged, and as nearly as he could judge, fifth had disappeared in the same manner (by the time that afterwards elapsed as the preceding two, without the least before the morning came in,) about two distinguishable alteration of external o'clock, there was a slight tremulous appearances. The remaining four looked motion of the floors. He stooped. The as the seven had originally looked ; that motion lasted nearly a minute ; but it is, occupying, at irregular distances, the was so extremely gentle, that he almost top of the wall on that side of the dundoubted whether it was real, or only geon. The tall folding door, too, still imaginary. He listened. Not a sound seemed to stand beneath, in the centre could be heard. Presently, however, he of these four, as it had at first stood in the felt a rush of cold air blow upon him ; centre of the seven. But he could no and dashing towards the quarter whence longer doubt, what, on the preceding it seemed to proceed, he stumbled over day, he fancied might be the effect of something which he judged to be the visual deception. The dungeon was water ewer.
The rush of cold air was smaller. The roof had lowered—and no longer perceptible; and as Vivenzio the opposite ends had contracted the stretched out his hands, he found him- intermediate distance by a space equal, self close to the walls. He remained he thought, to that over which the three motionless for a considerable time; but windows had extended. He was bewilnothing occurred during the remainder dered in vain imaginings to account for of the night to excite his attention, these things. Some frightful purpose though he continued to watch with un- some devilish torture of mind or bodyabated vigilance.
some unheard-of device for producing The first approaches of the morning exquisite misery, lurked, he was sure, in were visible through the grated windows, what had taken place. breaking, with faint divisions of light, Oppressed with this belief, and disthe darkness that still pervaded every tracted more by the dreadful uncer. other part, long before Vivenzio was tainty of whatever fate impended, than enabled to distinguish any object in his he could be dismayed, he thought, by dungeon. Instinctively and fearfully he the knowledge of the worst, he sat ruturned his eyes, hot and inflamed with minating, hour after hour, yielding his watching, towards them.
There were fears in succession to every haggard FOUR! He could see only four : but it fancy. At last a horrible suspicion might be that some intervening object flashed suddenly across his mind, and prevented the fifth from becoming per- he started up with a frantic air. “Yes !" ceptible ; and he waited impatiently to he exclaimed, looking wildly round his ascertain if it were so. As the light dungeon, and shuddering as he spoke strengthened, however, and penetrated “Yes ! it must be so! I see it ! — I feel every corner of the cell, other objects of the maddening truth like scorching flames amazement struck his sight. On the upon my brain ! Eternal God !--supground lay the broken fragments of the port me! it must be so !-Yes, yes, that pitcher he had used the day before, and is to be my fate! Yon roof will descend ! at a small distance from them, nearer to these walls will hem me round-and