With this reflection, by using the three-cornered stiletto-blade as a wedge, he forced open the slender silver hinges of the casket. The Earl no sooner saw them give way than he snatched the casket from Sir Richard’s hand, wrenched off the cover, and tearing out the splendid contents, flung them on the floor in a transport of rage, while he eagerly searched for some letter or billet which should make the fancied guilt of his innocent Countess yet more apparent. Then stamping furiously on the gems, he exclaimed, “Thus I annihilate the miserable toys for which thou hast sold thyself, body and soul—consigned thyself to an early and timeless death, and me to misery and remorse for ever!—Tell me not of forgiveness, Varney—she is doomed!”
So saying, he left the room, and rushed into an adjacent closet, the door of which he locked and bolted.
Varney looked after him, while something of a more human feeling seemed to contend with his habitual sneer. “I am sorry for his weakness,” he said, “but love has made him a child. He throws down and treads on these costly toys-with the same vehemence would he dash to pieces this frailest toy of all, of which he used to rave so fondly. But that taste also will be forgotten when its object is no more. Well, he has no eye to value things as they deserve, and that nature has given to Varney. When Leicester shall be a sovereign, he will think as little of the gales of passion through which he gained that royal port, as ever did sailor in harbour of the perils of a voyage. But these tell-tale articles must not remain here—they are rather too rich vails for the drudges who dress the chamber.”
While Varney was employed in gathering together and putting them into a secret drawer of a cabinet that chanced to be open, he saw the door of Leicester’s closet open, the tapestry pushed aside, and the Earl’s face thrust out, but with eyes so dead, and lips and cheeks so bloodless and pale, that he started at the sudden change. No sooner did his eyes encounter the Earl’s, than the latter withdrew his head and shut the door of the closet. This manoeuvre Leicester repeated twice, without speaking a word, so that Varney began to doubt whether his brain was not actually affected by his mental agony. The third time, however, he beckoned, and Varney obeyed the signal. When he entered, he soon found his patron’s perturbation was not caused by insanity, but by the fullness of purpose which he entertained contending with various contrary passions. They passed a full hour in close consultation; after which the Earl of Leicester, with an incredible exertion, dressed himself, and went to attend his royal guest.
You have displaced the
mirth, broke the good meeting
With most admired disorder. —MACBETH.