Zanoni eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about Zanoni.

It was that grey, indistinct, struggling interval between the night and the dawn, when Clarence stood once more in his chamber.  The abstruse calculations lying on his table caught his eye, and filled him with a sentiment of weariness and distaste.  But—­“Alas, if we could be always young!  Oh, thou horrid spectre of the old, rheum-eyed man!  What apparition can the mystic chamber shadow forth more ugly and more hateful than thou?  Oh, yes, if we could be always young!  But not [thinks the neophyte now]—­not to labour forever at these crabbed figures and these cold compounds of herbs and drugs.  No; but to enjoy, to love, to revel!  What should be the companion of youth but pleasure?  And the gift of eternal youth may be mine this very hour!  What means this prohibition of Mejnour’s?  Is it not of the same complexion as his ungenerous reserve even in the minutest secrets of chemistry, or the numbers of his Cabala?—­compelling me to perform all the toils, and yet withholding from me the knowledge of the crowning result?  No doubt he will still, on his return, show me that the great mystery can be attained; but will still forbid me to attain it.  Is it not as if he desired to keep my youth the slave to his age; to make me dependent solely on himself; to bind me to a journeyman’s service by perpetual excitement to curiosity, and the sight of the fruits he places beyond my lips?” These, and many reflections still more repining, disturbed and irritated him.  Heated with wine—­excited by the wild revels he had left—­he was unable to sleep.  The image of that revolting Old Age which Time, unless defeated, must bring upon himself, quickened the eagerness of his desire for the dazzling and imperishable Youth he ascribed to Zanoni.  The prohibition only served to create a spirit of defiance.  The reviving day, laughing jocundly through his lattice, dispelled all the fears and superstitions that belong to night.  The mystic chamber presented to his imagination nothing to differ from any other apartment in the castle.  What foul or malignant apparition could harm him in the light of that blessed sun!  It was the peculiar, and on the whole most unhappy, contradiction in Glyndon’s nature, that while his reasonings led him to doubt,—­and doubt rendered him in moral conduct irresolute and unsteady; he was physically brave to rashness.  Nor is this uncommon:  scepticism and presumption are often twins.  When a man of this character determines upon any action, personal fear never deters him; and for the moral fear, any sophistry suffices to self-will.  Almost without analysing himself the mental process by which his nerves hardened themselves and his limbs moved, he traversed the corridor, gained Mejnour’s apartment, and opened the forbidden door.  All was as he had been accustomed to see it, save that on a table in the centre of the room lay open a large volume.  He approached, and gazed on the characters on the page; they were in a cipher, the study of which had made a part of his labours.  With but slight difficulty he imagined that he interpreted the meaning of the first sentences, and that they ran thus:—­

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Zanoni from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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