Even Amy was for a moment interested by what was to her so new a scene. “I had thought it magical art,” she said, “but poor Tressilian taught me to judge of such things as they are. Great God! and may not these idle splendours resemble my own hoped-for happiness—a single spark, which is instantly swallowed up by surrounding darkness—a precarious glow, which rises but for a brief space into the air, that its fall may be the lower? O Leicester! after all—all that thou hast said—hast sworn—that Amy was thy love, thy life, can it be that thou art the magician at whose nod these enchantments arise, and that she sees them as an outcast, if not a captive?”
The sustained, prolonged, and repeated bursts of music, from so many different quarters, and at so many varying points of distance, which sounded as if not the Castle of Kenilworth only, but the whole country around, had been at once the scene of solemnizing some high national festival, carried the same oppressive thought still closer to her heart, while some notes would melt in distant and falling tones, as if in compassion for her sorrows, and some burst close and near upon her, as if mocking her misery, with all the insolence of unlimited mirth. “These sounds,” she said, “are mine—mine, because they are his; but I cannot say, Be still, these loud strains suit me not; and the voice of the meanest peasant that mingles in the dance would have more power to modulate the music than the command of her who is mistress of all.”
By degrees the sounds of revelry died away, and the Countess withdrew from the window at which she had sat listening to them. It was night, but the moon afforded considerable light in the room, so that Amy was able to make the arrangement which she judged necessary. There was hope that Leicester might come to her apartment as soon as the revel in the Castle had subsided; but there was also risk she might be disturbed by some unauthorized intruder. She had lost confidence in the key since Tressilian had entered so easily, though the door was locked on the inside; yet all the additional security she could think of was to place the table across the door, that she might be warned by the noise should any one attempt to enter. Having taken these necessary precautions, the unfortunate lady withdrew to her couch, stretched herself down on it, mused in anxious expectation, and counted more than one hour after midnight, till exhausted nature proved too strong for love, for grief, for fear, nay, even for uncertainty, and she slept.