As he thus spoke, Zanoni laid his hand gently on the burning temples of his excited and wondering listener; and presently a sort of trance came over him: he imagined that he was returned to the home of his infancy; that he was in the small chamber where, over his early slumbers, his mother had watched and prayed. There it was,—visible, palpable, solitary, unaltered. In the recess, the homely bed; on the walls, the shelves filled with holy books; the very easel on which he had first sought to call the ideal to the canvas, dust-covered, broken, in the corner. Below the window lay the old churchyard: he saw it green in the distance, the sun glancing through the yew-trees; he saw the tomb where father and mother lay united, and the spire pointing up to heaven, the symbol of the hopes of those who consigned the ashes to the dust; in his ear rang the bells, pealing, as on a Sabbath day. Far fled all the visions of anxiety and awe that had haunted and convulsed; youth, boyhood, childhood came back to him with innocent desires and hopes; he thought he fell upon his knees to pray. He woke,—he woke in delicious tears, he felt that the Phantom was fled forever. He looked round,—Zanoni was gone. On the table lay these lines, the ink yet wet:—
“I will find ways and means for thy escape. At nightfall, as the clock strikes nine, a boat shall wait thee on the river before this house; the boatman will guide thee to a retreat where thou mayst rest in safety till the Reign of Terror, which nears its close, be past. Think no more of the sensual love that lured, and wellnigh lost thee. It betrayed, and would have destroyed. Thou wilt regain thy land in safety,—long years yet spared to thee to muse over the past, and to redeem it. For thy future, be thy dream thy guide, and thy tears thy baptism.”
The Englishman obeyed the injunctions of the letter, and found their truth.
Quid mirare meas tot
in uno corpore formas?
(Why wonder that I have so many forms in a single body?)
Zanoni to Mejnour.
“She is in one of their prisons,—their inexorable prisons. It is Robespierre’s order,—I have tracked the cause to Glyndon. This, then, made that terrible connection between their fates which I could not unravel, but which (till severed as it now is) wrapped Glyndon himself in the same cloud that concealed her. In prison,—in prison!—it is the gate of the grave! Her trial, and the inevitable execution that follows such trial, is the third day from this. The tyrant has fixed all his schemes of slaughter for the 10th of Thermidor. While the deaths of the unoffending strike awe to the city, his satellites are to massacre his foes. There is but one hope left,—that the Power which now dooms the doomer, may render me an instrument to expedite his fall. But two days left,—two days! In all my wealth of time I see but two days; all beyond,—darkness, solitude. I may save her yet. The tyrant shall fall the day before that which he has set apart for slaughter! For the first time I mix among the broils and stratagems of men, and my mind leaps up from my despair, armed and eager for the contest.”