Oh, “yes!” forsooth, Clarence Glyndon! Every light nature answers “yes” lightly to such a question from lips so rosy! Have a care,—have a care! Why the deuce, Mejnour, do you leave your pupil of four-and-twenty to the mercy of these wild cats-a-mountain! Preach fast, and abstinence, and sublime renunciation of the cheats of the senses! Very well in you, sir, Heaven knows how many ages old; but at four-and-twenty, your Hierophant would have kept you out of Fillide’s way, or you would have had small taste for the Cabala.
And so they stood, and talked, and vowed, and whispered, till the girl’s mother made some noise within the house, and Fillide bounded back to the distaff, her finger once more on her lip.
“There is more magic in Fillide than in Mejnour,” said Glyndon to himself, walking gayly home; “yet on second thoughts, I know not if I quite so well like a character so ready for revenge. But he who has the real secret can baffle even the vengeance of a woman, and disarm all danger!”
Sirrah! dost thou even already meditate the possibility of treason? Oh, well said Zanoni, “to pour pure water into the muddy well does but disturb the mud.”
Cernis, custodia qualis
Vestibulo sedeat? facies quae limina servet?
“Aeneid,” lib. vi. 574.
(See you what porter
sits within the vestibule?—what face
watches at the threshold?)
And it is profound night. All is at rest within the old castle,—all is breathless under the melancholy stars. Now is the time. Mejnour with his austere wisdom,—Mejnour the enemy to love; Mejnour, whose eye will read thy heart, and refuse thee the promised secrets because the sunny face of Fillide disturbs the lifeless shadow that he calls repose,—Mejnour comes to-morrow! Seize the night! Beware of fear! Never, or this hour! So, brave youth,—brave despite all thy errors,—so, with a steady pulse, thy hand unlocks once more the forbidden door.
He placed his lamp on the table beside the book, which still lay there opened; he turned over the leaves, but could not decipher their meaning till he came to the following passage:—
“When, then, the pupil is thus initiated and prepared, let him open the casement, light the lamps, and bathe his temples with the elixir. He must beware how he presume yet to quaff the volatile and fiery spirit. To taste till repeated inhalations have accustomed the frame gradually to the ecstatic liquid, is to know not life, but death.”