Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.

The agony with which his master spoke had some effect even on the hardened Varney, who, in the midst of his own wicked and ambitious designs, really loved his patron as well as such a wretch was capable of loving anything.  But he comforted himself, and subdued his self-reproaches, with the reflection that if he inflicted upon the Earl some immediate and transitory pain, it was in order to pave his way to the throne, which, were this marriage dissolved by death or otherwise, he deemed Elizabeth would willingly share with his benefactor.  He therefore persevered in his diabolical policy; and after a moment’s consideration, answered the anxious queries of the Earl with a melancholy look, as if he had in vain sought some exculpation for the Countess; then suddenly raising his head, he said, with an expression of hope, which instantly communicated itself to the countenance of his patron—­“Yet wherefore, if guilty, should she have perilled herself by coming hither?  Why not rather have fled to her father’s, or elsewhere?—­though that, indeed, might have interfered with her desire to be acknowledged as Countess of Leicester.”

“True, true, true!” exclaimed Leicester, his transient gleam of hope giving way to the utmost bitterness of feeling and expression; “thou art not fit to fathom a woman’s depth of wit, Varney.  I see it all.  She would not quit the estate and title of the wittol who had wedded her.  Ay, and if in my madness I had started into rebellion, or if the angry Queen had taken my head, as she this morning threatened, the wealthy dower which law would have assigned to the Countess Dowager of Leicester had been no bad windfall to the beggarly Tressilian.  Well might she goad me on to danger, which could not end otherwise than profitably to her,—­Speak not for her, Varney!  I will have her blood!”

“My lord,” replied Varney, “the wildness of your distress breaks forth in the wildness of your language.”

“I say, speak not for her!” replied Leicester; “she has dishonoured me—­she would have murdered me—­all ties are burst between us.  She shall die the death of a traitress and adulteress, well merited both by the laws of God and man!  And—­what is this casket,” he said, “which was even now thrust into my hand by a boy, with the desire I would convey it to Tressilian, as he could not give it to the Countess?  By Heaven! the words surprised me as he spoke them, though other matters chased them from my brain; but now they return with double force.  It is her casket of jewels!—­Force it open, Varney—­force the hinges open with thy poniard!”

“She refused the aid of my dagger once,” thought Varney, as he unsheathed the weapon, “to cut the string which bound a letter, but now it shall work a mightier ministry in her fortunes.”

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Kenilworth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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