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Chapter 8

HAVING seen our friend properly installed in his new office, we turned our
eyes towards Windsor. The nearness of this place to London was such, as to
take away the idea of painful separation, when we quitted Raymond and
Perdita. We took leave of them in the Protectoral Palace. It was pretty
enough to see my sister enter as it were into the spirit of the drama, and
endeavour to fill her station with becoming dignity. Her internal pride and
humility of manner were now more than ever at war. Her timidity was not
artificial, but arose from that fear of not being properly appreciated,
that slight estimation of the neglect of the world, which also
characterized Raymond. But then Perdita thought more constantly of others
than he; and part of her bashfulness arose from a wish to take from those
around her a sense of inferiority; a feeling which never crossed her mind.
From the circumstances of her birth and education, Idris would have been
better fitted for the formulae of ceremony; but the very ease which
accompanied such actions with her, arising from habit, rendered them
tedious; while, with every drawback, Perdita evidently enjoyed her
situation. She was too full of new ideas to feel much pain when we
departed; she took an affectionate leave of us, and promised to visit us
soon; but she did not regret the circumstances that caused our separation.
The spirits of Raymond were unbounded; he did not know what to do with his
new got power; his head was full of plans; he had as yet decided on none--
but he promised himself, his friends, and the world, that the aera of his
Protectorship should be signalized by some act of surpassing glory. Thus, we
talked of them, and moralized, as with diminished numbers we returned to
Windsor Castle. We felt extreme delight at our escape from political
turmoil, and sought our solitude with redoubled zest. We did not want for
occupation; but my eager disposition was now turned to the field of
intellectual exertion only; and hard study I found to be an excellent
medicine to allay a fever of spirit with which in indolence, I should
doubtless have been assailed. Perdita had permitted us to take Clara back
with us to Windsor; and she and my two lovely infants were perpetual
sources of interest and amusement.

The only circumstance that disturbed our peace, was the health of Adrian.
It evidently declined, without any symptom which could lead us to suspect
his disease, unless indeed his brightened eyes, animated look, and
flustering cheeks, made us dread consumption; but he was without pain or
fear. He betook himself to books with ardour, and reposed from study in the
society he best loved, that of his sister and myself. Sometimes he went up
to London to visit Raymond, and watch the progress of events. Clara often
accompanied him in these excursions; partly that she might see her parents,
partly because Adrian delighted in the prattle, and intelligent looks of
this lovely child.

Meanwhile all went on well in London. The new elections were finished;
parliament met, and Raymond was occupied in a thousand beneficial schemes.
Canals, aqueducts, bridges, stately buildings, and various edifices for
public utility, were entered upon; he was continually surrounded by
projectors and projects, which were to render England one scene of
fertility and magnificence; the state of poverty was to be abolished; men
were to be transported from place to place almost with the same facility as
the Princes Houssain, Ali, and Ahmed, in the Arabian Nights. The physical
state of man would soon not yield to the beatitude of angels; disease was
to be banished; labour lightened of its heaviest burden. Nor did this seem
extravagant. The arts of life, and the discoveries of science had augmented
in a ratio which left all calculation behind; food sprung up, so to say,
spontaneously--machines existed to supply with facility every want of the
population. An evil direction still survived; and men were not happy, not
because they could not, but because they would not rouse themselves to
vanquish self-raised obstacles. Raymond was to inspire them with his
beneficial will, and the mechanism of society, once systematised according
to faultless rules, would never again swerve into disorder. For these hopes
he abandoned his long-cherished ambition of being enregistered in the
annals of nations as a successful warrior; laying aside his sword, peace
and its enduring glories became his aim--the title he coveted was that of
the benefactor of his country.

Among other works of art in which he was engaged, he had projected the
erection of a national gallery for statues and pictures. He possessed many
himself, which he designed to present to the Republic; and, as the edifice
was to be the great ornament of his Protectorship, he was very fastidious
in his choice of the plan on which it would be built. Hundreds were brought
to him and rejected. He sent even to Italy and Greece for drawings; but, as
the design was to be characterized by originality as well as by perfect
beauty, his endeavours were for a time without avail. At length a drawing
came, with an address where communications might be sent, and no artist's
name affixed. The design was new and elegant, but faulty; so faulty, that
although drawn with the hand and eye of taste, it was evidently the work of
one who was not an architect. Raymond contemplated it with delight; the
more he gazed, the more pleased he was; and yet the errors multiplied under
inspection. He wrote to the address given, desiring to see the draughtsman,
that such alterations might be made, as should be suggested in a
consultation between him and the original conceiver.

A Greek came. A middle-aged man, with some intelligence of manner, but with
so common-place a physiognomy, that Raymond could scarcely believe that he
was the designer. He acknowledged that he was not an architect; but the
idea of the building had struck him, though he had sent it without the
smallest hope of its being accepted. He was a man of few words. Raymond
questioned him; but his reserved answers soon made him turn from the man to
the drawing. He pointed out the errors, and the alterations that he wished
to be made; he offered the Greek a pencil that he might correct the sketch
on the spot; this was refused by his visitor, who said that he perfectly
understood, and would work at it at home. At length Raymond suffered him to
depart.

The next day he returned. The design had been re-drawn; but many defects
still remained, and several of the instructions given had been
misunderstood. "Come," said Raymond, "I yielded to you yesterday, now
comply with my request--take the pencil."

The Greek took it, but he handled it in no artist-like way; at length he
said: "I must confess to you, my Lord, that I did not make this drawing. It
is impossible for you to see the real designer; your instructions must pass
through me. Condescend therefore to have patience with my ignorance, and to
explain your wishes to me; in time I am certain that you will be
satisfied."

Raymond questioned vainly; the mysterious Greek would say no more. Would an
architect be permitted to see the artist? This also was refused. Raymond
repeated his instructions, and the visitor retired. Our friend resolved
however not to be foiled in his wish. He suspected, that unaccustomed
poverty was the cause of the mystery, and that the artist was unwilling to
be seen in the garb and abode of want. Raymond was only the more excited by
this consideration to discover him; impelled by the interest he took in
obscure talent, he therefore ordered a person skilled in such matters, to
follow the Greek the next time he came, and observe the house in which he
should enter. His emissary obeyed, and brought the desired intelligence. He
had traced the man to one of the most penurious streets in the metropolis.
Raymond did not wonder, that, thus situated, the artist had shrunk from
notice, but he did not for this alter his resolve.

On the same evening, he went alone to the house named to him. Poverty,
dirt, and squalid misery characterized its appearance. Alas! thought
Raymond, I have much to do before England becomes a Paradise. He knocked;
the door was opened by a string from above--the broken, wretched
staircase was immediately before him, but no person appeared; he knocked
again, vainly--and then, impatient of further delay, he ascended the
dark, creaking stairs. His main wish, more particularly now that he
witnessed the abject dwelling of the artist, was to relieve one, possessed
of talent, but depressed by want. He pictured to himself a youth, whose
eyes sparkled with genius, whose person was attenuated by famine. He half
feared to displease him; but he trusted that his generous kindness would be
administered so delicately, as not to excite repulse. What human heart is
shut to kindness? and though poverty, in its excess, might render the
sufferer unapt to submit to the supposed degradation of a benefit, the zeal
of the benefactor must at last relax him into thankfulness. These thoughts
encouraged Raymond, as he stood at the door of the highest room of the
house. After trying vainly to enter the other apartments, he perceived just
within the threshold of this one, a pair of small Turkish slippers; the
door was ajar, but all was silent within. It was probable that the inmate
was absent, but secure that he had found the right person, our adventurous
Protector was tempted to enter, to leave a purse on the table, and silently
depart. In pursuance of this idea, he pushed open the door gently--but
the room was inhabited.

Raymond had never visited the dwellings of want, and the scene that now
presented itself struck him to the heart. The floor was sunk in many
places; the walls ragged and bare--the ceiling weather-stained--a
tattered bed stood in the corner; there were but two chairs in the room,
and a rough broken table, on which was a light in a tin candlestick;--yet
in the midst of such drear and heart sickening poverty, there was an air of
order and cleanliness that surprised him. The thought was fleeting; for his
attention was instantly drawn towards the inhabitant of this wretched
abode. It was a female. She sat at the table; one small hand shaded her
eyes from the candle; the other held a pencil; her looks were fixed on a
drawing before her, which Raymond recognized as the design presented to
him. Her whole appearance awakened his deepest interest. Her dark hair was
braided and twined in thick knots like the head-dress of a Grecian statue;
her garb was mean, but her attitude might have been selected as a model of
grace. Raymond had a confused remembrance that he had seen such a form
before; he walked across the room; she did not raise her eyes, merely
asking in Romaic, who is there? "A friend," replied Raymond in the same
dialect. She looked up wondering, and he saw that it was Evadne Zaimi.
Evadne, once the idol of Adrian's affections; and who, for the sake of her
present visitor, had disdained the noble youth, and then, neglected by him
she loved, with crushed hopes and a stinging sense of misery, had returned
to her native Greece. What revolution of fortune could have brought her to
England, and housed her thus?

Raymond recognized her; and his manner changed from polite beneficence to
the warmest protestations of kindness and sympathy. The sight of her, in
her present situation, passed like an arrow into his soul. He sat by her,
he took her hand, and said a thousand things which breathed the deepest
spirit of compassion and affection. Evadne did not answer; her large dark
eyes were cast down, at length a tear glimmered on the lashes. "Thus," she
cried, "kindness can do, what no want, no misery ever effected; I weep."
She shed indeed many tears; her head sunk unconsciously on the shoulder of
Raymond; he held her hand: he kissed her sunken tear-stained cheek. He told
her, that her sufferings were now over: no one possessed the art of
consoling like Raymond; he did not reason or declaim, but his look shone
with sympathy; he brought pleasant images before the sufferer; his caresses
excited no distrust, for they arose purely from the feeling which leads a
mother to kiss her wounded child; a desire to demonstrate in every possible
way the truth of his feelings, and the keenness of his wish to pour balm
into the lacerated mind of the unfortunate. As Evadne regained her
composure, his manner became even gay; he sported with the idea of her
poverty. Something told him that it was not its real evils that lay heavily
at her heart, but the debasement and disgrace attendant on it; as he
talked, he divested it of these; sometimes speaking of her fortitude with
energetic praise; then, alluding to her past state, he called her his
Princess in disguise. He made her warm offers of service; she was too much
occupied by more engrossing thoughts, either to accept or reject them; at
length he left her, making a promise to repeat his visit the next day. He
returned home, full of mingled feelings, of pain excited by Evadne's
wretchedness, and pleasure at the prospect of relieving it. Some motive for
which he did not account, even to himself, prevented him from relating his
adventure to Perdita.

The next day he threw such disguise over his person as a cloak afforded,
and revisited Evadne. As he went, he bought a basket of costly fruits, such
as were natives of her own country, and throwing over these various
beautiful flowers, bore it himself to the miserable garret of his friend.
"Behold," cried he, as he entered, "what bird's food I have brought for my
sparrow on the house-top."

Evadne now related the tale of her misfortunes. Her father, though of high
rank, had in the end dissipated his fortune, and even destroyed his
reputation and influence through a course of dissolute indulgence. His
health was impaired beyond hope of cure; and it became his earnest wish,
before he died, to preserve his daughter from the poverty which would be
the portion of her orphan state. He therefore accepted for her, and
persuaded her to accede to, a proposal of marriage, from a wealthy Greek
merchant settled at Constantinople. She quitted her native Greece; her
father died; by degrees she was cut off from all the companions and ties of
her youth.

The war, which about a year before the present time had broken out between
Greece and Turkey, brought about many reverses of fortune. Her husband
became bankrupt, and then in a tumult and threatened massacre on the part
of the Turks, they were obliged to fly at midnight, and reached in an open
boat an English vessel under sail, which brought them immediately to this
island. The few jewels they had saved, supported them awhile. The whole
strength of Evadne's mind was exerted to support the failing spirits of her
husband. Loss of property, hopelessness as to his future prospects, the
inoccupation to which poverty condemned him, combined to reduce him to a
state bordering on insanity. Five months after their arrival in England, he
committed suicide.

"You will ask me," continued Evadne, "what I have done since; why I have
not applied for succour to the rich Greeks resident here; why I have not
returned to my native country? My answer to these questions must needs
appear to you unsatisfactory, yet they have sufficed to lead me on, day
after day, enduring every wretchedness, rather than by such means to seek
relief. Shall the daughter of the noble, though prodigal Zaimi, appear a
beggar before her compeers or inferiors--superiors she had none. Shall I
bow my head before them, and with servile gesture sell my nobility for
life? Had I a child, or any tie to bind me to existence, I might descend to
this--but, as it is--the world has been to me a harsh step-mother; fain
would I leave the abode she seems to grudge, and in the grave forget my
pride, my struggles, my despair. The time will soon come; grief and famine
have already sapped the foundations of my being; a very short time, and I
shall have passed away; unstained by the crime of self-destruction, unstung
by the memory of degradation, my spirit will throw aside the miserable
coil, and find such recompense as fortitude and resignation may deserve.
This may seem madness to you, yet you also have pride and resolution; do
not then wonder that my pride is tameless, my resolution unalterable."

Having thus finished her tale, and given such an account as she deemed fit,
of the motives of her abstaining from all endeavour to obtain aid from her
countrymen, Evadne paused; yet she seemed to have more to say, to which she
was unable to give words. In the mean time Raymond was eloquent. His desire
of restoring his lovely friend to her rank in society, and to her lost
prosperity, animated him, and he poured forth with energy, all his wishes
and intentions on that subject. But he was checked; Evadne exacted a
promise, that he should conceal from all her friends her existence in
England. "The relatives of the Earl of Windsor," said she haughtily,
"doubtless think that I injured him; perhaps the Earl himself would be the
first to acquit me, but probably I do not deserve acquittal. I acted then,
as I ever must, from impulse. This abode of penury may at least prove the
disinterestedness of my conduct. No matter: I do not wish to plead my cause
before any of them, not even before your Lordship, had you not first
discovered me. The tenor of my actions will prove that I had rather die,
than be a mark for scorn--behold the proud Evadne in her tatters! look on
the beggar-princess! There is aspic venom in the thought--promise me that
my secret shall not be violated by you."

Raymond promised; but then a new discussion ensued. Evadne required another
engagement on his part, that he would not without her concurrence enter
into any project for her benefit, nor himself offer relief. "Do not degrade
me in my own eyes," she said; "poverty has long been my nurse; hard-visaged
she is, but honest. If dishonour, or what I conceive to be dishonour, come
near me, I am lost." Raymond adduced many arguments and fervent persuasions
to overcome her feeling, but she remained unconvinced; and, agitated by the
discussion, she wildly and passionately made a solemn vow, to fly and hide
herself where he never could discover her, where famine would soon bring
death to conclude her woes, if he persisted in his to her disgracing
offers. She could support herself, she said. And then she shewed him how,
by executing various designs and paintings, she earned a pittance for her
support. Raymond yielded for the present. He felt assured, after he had for
awhile humoured her self-will, that in the end friendship and reason would
gain the day.

But the feelings that actuated Evadne were rooted in the depths of her
being, and were such in their growth as he had no means of understanding.
Evadne loved Raymond. He was the hero of her imagination, the image carved
by love in the unchanged texture of her heart. Seven years ago, in her
youthful prime, she had become attached to him; he had served her country
against the Turks; he had in her own land acquired that military glory
peculiarly dear to the Greeks, since they were still obliged inch by inch
to fight for their security. Yet when he returned thence, and first
appeared in public life in England, her love did not purchase his, which
then vacillated between Perdita and a crown. While he was yet undecided,
she had quitted England; the news of his marriage reached her, and her
hopes, poorly nurtured blossoms, withered and fell. The glory of life was
gone for her; the roseate halo of love, which had imbued every object with
its own colour, faded;--she was content to take life as it was, and to
make the best of leaden-coloured reality. She married; and, carrying her
restless energy of character with her into new scenes, she turned her
thoughts to ambition, and aimed at the title and power of Princess of
Wallachia; while her patriotic feelings were soothed by the idea of the
good she might do her country, when her husband should be chief of this
principality. She lived to find ambition, as unreal a delusion as love. Her
intrigues with Russia for the furtherance of her object, excited the
jealousy of the Porte, and the animosity of the Greek government. She was
considered a traitor by both, the ruin of her husband followed; they
avoided death by a timely flight, and she fell from the height of her
desires to penury in England. Much of this tale she concealed from Raymond;
nor did she confess, that repulse and denial, as to a criminal convicted of
the worst of crimes, that of bringing the scythe of foreign despotism to
cut away the new springing liberties of her country, would have followed
her application to any among the Greeks.

She knew that she was the cause of her husband's utter ruin; and she strung
herself to bear the consequences. The reproaches which agony extorted; or
worse, cureless, uncomplaining depression, when his mind was sunk in a
torpor, not the less painful because it was silent and moveless. She
reproached herself with the crime of his death; guilt and its punishments
appeared to surround her; in vain she endeavoured to allay remorse by the
memory of her real integrity; the rest of the world, and she among them,
judged of her actions, by their consequences. She prayed for her husband's
soul; she conjured the Supreme to place on her head the crime of his
self-destruction--she vowed to live to expiate his fault.

In the midst of such wretchedness as must soon have destroyed her, one
thought only was matter of consolation. She lived in the same country,
breathed the same air as Raymond. His name as Protector was the burthen of
every tongue; his achievements, projects, and magnificence, the argument of
every story. Nothing is so precious to a woman's heart as the glory and
excellence of him she loves; thus in every horror Evadne revelled in his
fame and prosperity. While her husband lived, this feeling was regarded by
her as a crime, repressed, repented of. When he died, the tide of love
resumed its ancient flow, it deluged her soul with its tumultuous waves,
and she gave herself up a prey to its uncontrollable power.

But never, O, never, should he see her in her degraded state. Never should
he behold her fallen, as she deemed, from her pride of beauty, the
poverty-stricken inhabitant of a garret, with a name which had become a
reproach, and a weight of guilt on her soul. But though impenetrably veiled
from him, his public office permitted her to become acquainted with all his
actions, his daily course of life, even his conversation. She allowed
herself one luxury, she saw the newspapers every day, and feasted on the
praise and actions of the Protector. Not that this indulgence was devoid of
accompanying grief. Perdita's name was for ever joined with his; their
conjugal felicity was celebrated even by the authentic testimony of facts.
They were continually together, nor could the unfortunate Evadne read the
monosyllable that designated his name, without, at the same time, being
presented with the image of her who was the faithful companion of all his
labours and pleasures. They, their Excellencies, met her eyes in each line,
mingling an evil potion that poisoned her very blood.

It was in the newspaper that she saw the advertisement for the design for a
national gallery. Combining with taste her remembrance of the edifices
which she had seen in the east, and by an effort of genius enduing them
with unity of design, she executed the plan which had been sent to the
Protector. She triumphed in the idea of bestowing, unknown and forgotten as
she was, a benefit upon him she loved; and with enthusiastic pride looked
forward to the accomplishment of a work of hers, which, immortalized in
stone, would go down to posterity stamped with the name of Raymond. She
awaited with eagerness the return of her messenger from the palace; she
listened insatiate to his account of each word, each look of the Protector;
she felt bliss in this communication with her beloved, although he knew not
to whom he addressed his instructions. The drawing itself became ineffably
dear to her. He had seen it, and praised it; it was again retouched by her,
each stroke of her pencil was as a chord of thrilling music, and bore to
her the idea of a temple raised to celebrate the deepest and most
unutterable emotions of her soul. These contemplations engaged her, when
the voice of Raymond first struck her ear, a voice, once heard, never to be
forgotten; she mastered her gush of feelings, and welcomed him with quiet
gentleness.

Pride and tenderness now struggled, and at length made a compromise
together. She would see Raymond, since destiny had led him to her, and her
constancy and devotion must merit his friendship. But her rights with
regard to him, and her cherished independence, should not be injured by the
idea of interest, or the intervention of the complicated feelings attendant
on pecuniary obligation, and the relative situations of the benefactor, and
benefited. Her mind was of uncommon strength; she could subdue her sensible
wants to her mental wishes, and suffer cold, hunger and misery, rather than
concede to fortune a contested point. Alas! that in human nature such a
pitch of mental discipline, and disdainful negligence of nature itself,
should not have been allied to the extreme of moral excellence! But the
resolution that permitted her to resist the pains of privation, sprung from
the too great energy of her passions; and the concentrated self-will of
which this was a sign, was destined to destroy even the very idol, to
preserve whose respect she submitted to this detail of wretchedness.

Their intercourse continued. By degrees Evadne related to her friend the
whole of her story, the stain her name had received in Greece, the weight
of sin which had accrued to her from the death of her husband. When Raymond
offered to clear her reputation, and demonstrate to the world her real
patriotism, she declared that it was only through her present sufferings
that she hoped for any relief to the stings of conscience; that, in her
state of mind, diseased as he might think it, the necessity of occupation
was salutary medicine; she ended by extorting a promise that for the space
of one month he would refrain from the discussion of her interests,
engaging after that time to yield in part to his wishes. She could not
disguise to herself that any change would separate her from him; now she
saw him each day. His connection with Adrian and Perdita was never
mentioned; he was to her a meteor, a companionless star, which at its
appointed hour rose in her hemisphere, whose appearance brought felicity,
and which, although it set, was never eclipsed. He came each day to her
abode of penury, and his presence transformed it to a temple redolent with
sweets, radiant with heaven's own light; he partook of her delirium. "They
built a wall between them and the world"--Without, a thousand harpies
raved, remorse and misery, expecting the destined moment for their
invasion. Within, was the peace as of innocence, reckless blindless,
deluding joy, hope, whose still anchor rested on placid but unconstant
water.

Thus, while Raymond had been wrapt in visions of power and fame, while he
looked forward to entire dominion over the elements and the mind of man,
the territory of his own heart escaped his notice; and from that unthought
of source arose the mighty torrent that overwhelmed his will, and carried
to the oblivious sea, fame, hope, and happiness.

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