Polidori's 1819 Novella: "The Vampyre" (Vampire)
Skate on over to the characteristics link if you would like to see how Ruthven compares to the other vampires being written about at that time.
Remember also that I have written a study guide for this novella, as well as Byron's "Augustus Darvell". They will be coming up on the website in Oct.
It happened that in the midst of the dissipations attendantupon a London winter, there appeared at the various parties ofthe leaders of the ton a nobleman, more remarkable for hissingularities, than his rank. He gazed upon the mirth around him,as if he could not participate therein. Apparently, the lightlaughter of the fair only attracted his attention, that he mightby a look quell it, and throw fear into those breasts wherethoughtlessness reigned. Those who felt this sensation of awe,could not explain whence it arose: some attributed it to the deadgrey eye, which, fixing upon the object's face, did not seem topenetrate, and at one glance to pierce through to the inwardworkings of the heart; but fell upon the cheek with a leaden raythat weighed upon the skin it could not pass. His peculiaritiescaused him to be invited to every house; all wished to see him,and those who had been accustomed to violent excitement, and nowfelt the weight of ennui, were pleased at having somethingin their presence capable of engaging their attention. In spiteof the deadly hue of his face, which never gained a warmer tint,either from the blush of modesty, or from the strong emotion ofpassion, though its form and outline were beautiful, many of thefemale hunters after notoriety attempted to win his attentions,and gain, at least, some marks of what they might term affection:Lady Mercer, who had been the mockery of every monster shewn indrawing-rooms since her marriage, threw herself in his way, anddid all but put on the dress of a mountebank, to attract hisnotice:--- though in vain:--- when she stood before him, thoughhis eyes were apparently fixed upon her's, still it seemed as ifthey were unperceived;---even her unappalled impudence wasbaffled, and she left, the field. But though the common adultresscould not influence even the guidance of his eyes, it was notthat the female sex was indifferent to him: yet such was theapparent caution with which he spoke to the virtuous wife andinnocent daughter, that few knew he ever addressed himself tofemales. He had, however, the reputation of a winning tongue; andwhether it was that it even overcame the dread of his singularcharacter, or that they were moved by his apparent hatred ofvice, he was as often among those females who form the boast oftheir sex from their domestic virtues, as among those who sullyit by their vices.
About the same time, there came to London a young gentleman ofthe name of Aubrey: he was an orphan left with an only sister inthe possession of great wealth, by parent» who died whilehe was yet in childhood. Left also to himself by guardians, whothought it their duty merely to take care of his fortune, whilethey relinquished the more important charge of his mind to thecare of mercenary subalterns, he cultivated more his imaginationthan his judgment. He had, hence, that high romantic feeling ofhonour and candour, which daily ruins so many milliners'apprentices. He believed all to sympathise with virtue, andthought that vice was thrown in by Providence merely for thepicturesque effect of the scene, as we see in romances: hethought that the misery of a cottage merely consisted in thevesting of clothes, which were as warm, but which were betteradapted to the painter's eye by their irregular folds and variouscoloured patches. Me thought, in fine, that the dreams of poetswere the realities of life. He was handsome, frank, and rich: forthese reasons, upon his entering into the gay circles, manymothers surrounded him, striving which should describe with leasttruth their languishing or romping favourites: the daughters atthe same time, by their brightening countenances when heapproached, and by their sparkling eyes, when he opened his lips,soon led him into false notions of his talents and his merit.Attached as lie was to the romance of his solitary hours, he wasstartled at finding, that, except in the tallow and wax candlesthat flickered, not from the presence of a ghost, but from wantof snuffing, there was no foundation in real life for any of thatcongeries of pleasing pictures and descriptions contained inthose volumes, from which he had formed his study. Finding,however, some compensation in his gratified vanity, he was aboutto relinquish his dreams, when the extraordinary being we haveabove described, crossed him in his career.
He watched him; and the very impossibility of forming an ideaof the character of a man entirely absorbed in himself, who gavefew other signs of his observation of external objects, than thetacit assent to their existence, implied by the avoidance oftheir contact: allowing his imagination to picture every thingthat flattered its propensity to extravagant ideas, he soonformed this object into the hero of a romance, and determined toobserve the offspring of his fancy, rather than the person beforehim. He became acquainted with him, paid him attentions, and sofar advanced upon his notice, that his presence was alwaysrecognised. He gradually learnt that Lord Ruthven's affairs wereembarrassed, and soon found, from the notes of preparation in— Street, that he was about to travel. Desirous of gainingsome information respecting this singular character, who, tillnow, had only whetted his curiosity, he hinted to his guardians,that it was time for him to perform the tour, which for manygenerations has been thought necessary to enable the young totake some rapid steps in the career of vice towards puttingthemselves upon an equality with the aged, and not allowing themto appear as if fallen from the skies, whenever scandalousintrigues are mentioned as the subjects of pleasantry or ofpraise, according to the degree of skill shewn in carrying themon. They consented: and Aubrey immediately mentioning hisintentions to Lord Ruthven, was surprised to receive from him aproposal to join him. Flattered by such a mark of esteem fromhim, who, apparently, had nothing in common with other men, hegladly accepted it, and in a few days they hail passed thecircling waters.
Hitherto, Aubrey had had no opportunity of studying LordRuthven's character, and now he found, that, though many more ofhis actions were exposed to his view, the results offereddifferent conclusions from (lie apparent motives to his conduct.His companion was profuse in his liberality; ---the idle, thevagabond, and the beggar, received from his hand more than enoughto relieve their immediate wants. But Aubrey could not avoidremarking, that it was not upon the virtuous, reduced toindigence by the misfortunes attendant even upon virtue, that hebestowed his alms; ---these were sent from the door with hardlysuppressed sneers; but when the profligate came to ask something,not to relieve his wants, but to allow him to wallow in his lust,or to sink him still deeper in his iniquity, he was sent awaywith rich charity. This was, however, attributed by him to thegreater importunity of the vicious, which generally prevails overthe retiring bashfulness of the virtuous indigent. There was onecircumstance about the charity of his Lordship, which was stillmore impressed upon his mind: all those upon whom it wasbestowed, inevitably found that there was a curse upon it, forthey were all either led to the scaffold, or sunk to the lowestand the most abject misery. At Brussels and other towns throughwhich they passed, Aubrey was surprized at the apparent eagernesswith which his companion sought for the centres of allfashionable vice; there he entered into all the spirit of thefaro table: he betted, and always gambled with success, exceptwhere the known sharper was his antagonist, and then he lost evenmore than he gained; but it was always with the same unchangingface, with which he generally watched the society around: it wasnot, however, so when he encountered the rash youthful novice, orthe luckless father of a numerous family; then his very wishseemed fortune's law---this apparent abstractedness of mind waslaid aside, and his eyes sparkled with more fire than that of thecat whilst dallying with lire half-dead mouse. In every town, heleft the formerly affluent youth, torn from the circle headorned, cursing, in the solitude of a dungeon, the fate that haddrawn him within the reach of this fiend; whilst many a fathersat frantic, amidst the speaking looks of mute hungry children,without a single farthing of his late immense wealth, wherewithto buy even sufficient to satisfy their present craving. Yet hetook no money from tho gambling table; but immediately lost, tothe ruiner of many, the last gilder he had just snatched from theconvulsive grasp of the innocent: this might but be the result ofa certain degree of knowledge, which was not, however, capable ofcombating the cunning of the more experienced. Aubrey oftenwished to represent this to his friend, and beg him to resignthat charity and pleasure which proved the ruin of all, and didnot tend to his own profit; ---but he delayed it---for each dayho hoped his friend would give him some opportunity of speakingfrankly and openly to him; however, this never occurred. LordRuthven in his carriage, and amidst the various wild and richscenes of nature, was always the same: his eye spoke less thanhis lip; and though Aubrey was near the object of his curiosity,he obtained no greater gratification from it than the constantexcitement of vainly wishing to break that mystery, which to hisexalted imagination began to assume the appearance of somethingsupernatural.
They soon arrived at Rome, and Aubrey for a time lost sight ofhis companion; he left him in daily attendance upon the morningcircle of an Italian countess, whilst he went in search of thememorials of another almost deserted city. Whilst he was thusengaged, letters arrived from England, which he opened with eagerimpatience; the first was from his sister, breathing nothing butaffection; the others were from his guardians, the latterastonished him; if it had before entered into his imaginationthat there was an evil power resident in his companion, theseseemed to give him sufficient reason for the belief. Hisguardians insisted upon his immediately leaving his friend, andurged, that his character was dreadfully vicious, for that thepossession of irresistible powers of seduction, rendered hislicentious habits more dangerous to society. It had beendiscovered, that his contempt for the adultress had notoriginated in hatred of her character; but that he had required,to enhance his gratification, that his victim, the partner of hisguilt, should be hurled from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue,down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation: in fine, thatall those females whom he had sought, apparently on account oftheir virtue, had, since his departure, thrown even the maskaside, and had not scrupled to expose the whole deformity oftheir vices to the public gaze.
Aubrey determined upon leaving one, whose character had notyet shown a single bright point on which to rest the eye. Heresolved to invent some plausible pretext for abandoning himaltogether, purposing, in the mean while, to watch him moreclosely, and to let no slight circumstances pass by unnoticed. Heentered into the same circle, and soon perceived, that hisLordship was endeavouring to work upon the inexperience of thedaughter of the lady whose house he chiefly frequented. In Italy,it is seldom that an unmarried female is met with in society; hewas therefore obliged to carry on his plans in secret; butAubrey's eye followed him in all his windings, and soondiscovered that an assignation had been appointed, which wouldmost likely end in the ruin of an innocent, though thoughtlessgirl. Losing no time, he entered the apartment of Lord Ruthven,and abruptly asked him his intentions with respect to the lady,informing him at the same time that he was aware of his beingabout to meet her that very night. Lord Ruthven answered, thathis intentions were such as he supposed all would have upon suchan occasion; and upon being pressed whether he intended to marryher, merely laughed. Aubrey retired; and, immediately writing anote, to say, that from that moment he must decline accompanyinghis Lordship in the remainder of their proposed tour, ho orderedhis servant to seek other apartments, and calling upon tho motherof the lady, informed her of all he knew, not only with regard toher daughter, but also concerning the character of his Lordship.The assignation was prevented. Lord Ruthven next day merely senthis servant to notify his complete assent to a separation; butdid not hint any suspicion of his plans having been foiled byAubrey's interposition.
Having left Rome, Aubrey directed his steps towards Greece,and crossing the Peninsula, soon found himself at Athens. He thenfixed his residence in the house of a Greek; and soon occupiedhimself in tracing the faded records of ancient glory uponmonuments that apparently, ashamed of chronicling the deeds offreemen only before slaves, had hidden themselves beneath thesheltering soil or many coloured lichen. Under the same roof ashimself, existed a being, so beautiful and delicate, that shemight have formed the model for a painter, wishing; to pourtrayoil canvass the promised hope of the faithful in Mahomet'sparadise, save that her eyes spoke too much mind for any one tothink she could belong to those who had no souls. As she dancedupon the plain, or tripped along the mountain's side, one wouldhave thought the gazelle a poor type of her beauties; for whowould have exchanged her eye, apparently the eye of animatednature, for that sleepy luxurious look of the animal suited butto the taste of an epicure. The light step of Ianthe oftenaccompanied Aubrey in his search after antiquities, and oftenwould the unconscious girl, engaged in the pursuit of a Kashmerebutterfly, show the whole beauty of her form, floating as it wereupon the wind, to the eager gaze of him, who forgot the lettershe had just decyphered upon an almost effaced tablet, in thocontemplation of her sylph-like figure. Often would her tressesfalling, as she flitted around, exhibit in the sun's ray suchdelicately brilliant and swiftly fading hues, its might wellexcuse the forgetfulness of the antiquary, who let escape fromhis mind the very object he had before thought of vitalimportance to the proper interpretation of a passage inPausanias. But why attempt to describe charms which all feel, butnone can appreciate?---It was innocence, youth, and beauty,unaffected by crowded drawing-rooms and stifling- balls. Whilsthe drew those remains of which lie wished to preserve a memorialfor his future hours, she would stand by, and watch the magiceffects of his pencil, in tracing the scenes of her native place;she would then describe to him the circling dance upon the openplain, would paint, to him in all the glowing colours of youthfulmemory, the marriage pomp she remembered viewing in her infancy;and then, turning to subjects that had evidently made a greaterimpression upon her mind, would tell him all the supernaturaltales of her nurse. Her earnestness and apparent belief of whatshe narrated, excited the interest even of Aubrey; and often asshe told him the tale of the living vampyre, who had passed yearsamidst his friends, and dearest ties, forced every year, byfeeding upon the life of a lovely female to prolong his existencefor the ensuing months, his blood would run cold, whilst heattempted to laugh her out of such idle and horrible fantasies;> but lathe cited to him the names of old men, who had at lastdetected one living among themselves, after several of their nearrelatives and children had been found marked with the stamp ofthe fiend's appetite,; and when she found him so incredulous, shebegged of him to believe her, for it had been, remarked, thatthose who had dared to question their existence, always had someproof given, which obliged them, with grief and heartbreaking, toconfess it was true. She detailed to him the traditionalappearance of these monsters, and his horror was increased, byhearing a pretty accurate description of Lord Ruthven; he,however, still persisted in persuading her, that there could beno truth in her fears, though at the same time he wondered at themany coincidences which had all tended to excite a belief in thesupernatural power of Lord Ruthven.
Aubrey began to attach himself more and more to Ianthe; herinnocence, so contrasted with all the affected virtues of thewomen among whom he had sought for his vision of romance, won hisheart; and while he ridiculed the idea of a young man of Englishhabits, marrying an uneducated Greek girl, still he found himselfmore and more attached to the almost fairy form before him. Hewould tear himself at times from her, and, forming a plan forsome antiquarian research, he would depart, determined not toreturn until his object was attained; but he always found itimpossible to fix his attention upon the ruins around him, whilstin his mind he retained an image that seemed alone the rightfulpossessor of his thoughts. Ianthe was unconscious of his love,and was ever the same frank infantile being he had find: known.She always seemed to part from him with reluctance; but it wasbecause she had no longer any one with whom she could visit herfavourite haunts, whilst her guardian was occupied in sketchingor uncovering some fragment which had yet escaped the destructivehand of time. She had appealed to her parents on the subject ofVampyres, and they both, with several present, affirmed theirexistence, pale with horror at the very name. Soon after, Aubreydetermined to proceed upon one of his excursions, which was todetain him for a few hours; when they heard the name of theplace, they all at once begged of him not to return at night, ashe must necessarily pass through a wood, where no Greek wouldever remain, after the day had closed, upon any consideration.They described it as the resort of the vampyres in theirnocturnal orgies, and denounced the most heavy evils as impendingupon him who dared to cross their path. Aubrey made light oftheir representations, and tried to laugh them out of the idea;but when he saw them shudder at his daring thus to mock asuperior, infernal power, the very name of which apparently madetheir blood freeze, he was silent.
Next morning Aubrey set off upon his excursion unattended; hewas surprised to observe the melancholy face of his host, and wasconcerned to find that his words, mocking the belief of thosehorrible fiends, had inspired them with such terror. When he wasabout to depart, Ianthe came to the side of his horse, andearnestly begged of him to return, ore night allowed the power ofthese beings to be put in action;---he promised. He was, however,so occupied in his research, that lie did not perceive thatday-light would soon end, and that in the horizon there was oneof those specks which, in the warmer climates, so rapidly gatherinto a tremendous mass, and pour all their rage upon the devotedcountry. ---He at last, however, mounted his horse, determined tomake up by speed for his delay: but it was too late. Twilight, inthese southern climates, is almost unknown; immediately the sunsets, night begins: and ere he had advanced far, the power of thestorm was above---its echoing thunders had scarcely an intervalof rest---its thick heavy rain forced its way through thecanopying foliage, whilst the blue forked lightning seemed tofall and radiate at his very feet. Suddenly his horse tookfright, and he was carried with dreadful rapidity through theentangled forest. The animal at last, through fatigue, stopped,and he found, by the glare of lightning, that he was in theneighbourhood of a hovel that hardly lifted itself up from themasses of dead leaves and brushwood which surrounded it.Dismounting, he approached, hoping to find some one to guide himto the town, or at least trusting to obtain shelter from thepelting of the storm. As he approached, the thunders, for amoment silent, allowed him to hear the dreadful shrieks of awoman mingling with the stifled, exultant mockery of a laugh,continued in one almost unbroken sound;---he was startled: but,roused by the thunder which again rolled over his head, he, witha sudden effort, forced open the door of the hut. He foundhimself in utter darkness: the sound, however, guided him. He wasapparently unperceived; for, though he called, still the soundscontinued, and no notice was taken of him. He found himself incontact with some one, whom he immediately seized; when a voicecried, "Again baffled!" to which a loud laugh succeeded; and hefelt himself grappled by one whose strength seemed superhuman:determined to sell his life as dearly as he could, he struggled;but it was in vain: he was lifted from his feet and hurled withenormous force against the ground: ---his enemy threw himselfupon him, and kneeling upon his breast, had placed his hands uponhis throat --- when the glare of many torches penetrating throughthe hole that gave light in the day, disturbed him;---heinstantly rose, and, leaving his prey, rushed through the door,and in a moment the crashing of the brandies, as he broke throughthe wood, was no longer heard. The storm was now still; andAubrey, incapable of moving, was soon heard by those without.They entered; the light of their torches fell upon the mud walls,and the thatch loaded on every individual straw with heavy flakesof soot. At the desire of Aubrey they searched for her who hadattracted him by her cries; he was again left in darkness; butwhat was his horror, when the light of the torches once moreburs; upon him, to perceive the airy form of his fair conductressbrought in a lifeless corse. He shut his eyes, hoping that it wasbut a vision arising from his disturbed imagination; but he againsaw the same form, when he unclosed them, stretched by his side.There was no colour upon her cheek, not even upon her lip; yetthere was a stillness about her face that seemed almost asattaching as the life that once dwelt there:--- upon her neck andbreast was blood, and upon her throat were the marks of teethhaving opened the vein:---to this the men pointed, crying,simultaneously struck with horror, " A Vampyre! a Vampyre!" Alitter was quickly formed, and Aubrey was laid by the side of herwho had lately been to him the object of so many bright and fairyvisions, now fallen with the flower of life that had died withinher. He knew not what his thoughts were---his mind was benumbedand seemed to shun reflection, and take refuge in vacancy---heheld almost unconsciously in his hand a naked dagger of aparticular construction, which had been found in the hut. Theywere soon met by different parties who had been engaged in thesearch of her whom a mother had missed. Their lamentable cries,as they approached the city, forewarned the parents of somedreadful catastrophe. ---To describe their grief would beimpossible; but when they ascertained the cause of their child'sdeath, they looked at Aubrey, and pointed to the corse. They wereinconsolable; both died broken-hearted.
Aubrey being put to bed was seized with a most violent fever,and was often delirious; in these intervals he would call uponLord Ruthven and upon Ianthe---by some unaccountable combinationhe seemed to beg of his former companion to spare the being heloved. At other times he would imprecate maledictions upon hishead, and curse him as her destroyer. Lord Ruthven, chanced atthis time to arrive at Athens, and, from whatever motive, uponhearing of the state of Aubrey, immediately placed himself in thesame house, and became his constant attendant. When the latterrecovered from his delirium, he was horrified and startled at thesight of him whose image he had now combined with that of aVampyre; but Lord Ruthven, by his kind words, implying almostrepentance for the fault that had caused their separation, andstill more by the attention, anxiety, and care which he showed,soon reconciled him to his presence. His lordship seemed quitechanged; he no longer appeared that apathetic being who had soastonished Aubrey; but as soon as his convalescence began to berapid, he again gradually retired into the same state of mind,and Aubrey perceived no difference from the former man, exceptthat at times he was surprised to meet his gaze fixed intentlyupon him, with a smile of malicious exultation playing upon hislips: he knew not why, but this smile haunted him. During thelast stage of the invalid's recovery, Lord Ruthven was apparentlyengaged in watching the tideless waves raised by the coolingbreeze, or in marking the progress of those orbs, circling, likeour world, the moveless sun;---indeed, he appeared to wish toavoid the eyes of all.
Aubrey's mind, by this shock, was much weakened, and thatelasticity of spirit which had once so distinguished him nowseemed to have fled for ever. He was now as much a lover ofsolitude and silence as Lord Ruthven; but much as he wished forsolitude, his mind could not find it in the neighbourhood ofAthens; if he sought it amidst the ruins he had formerlyfrequented, Ianthe's form stood by his side---if he sought it inthe woods, her light step would appear wandering amidst theunderwood, in quest of the modest violet; then suddenly turninground, would show, to his wild imagination, her pale face andwounded throat, with a meek smile upon her lips. He determined tofly scenes, every feature of which created such bitterassociations in his mind. He proposed to Lord Ruthven, to whom heheld himself bound by the tender care he-had taken of him duringhis illness, that they should visit those parts of Greece neitherhad yet seen. They travelled in every direction, and sought everyspot to which a recollection could be attached: but though theythus hastened from place to place, yet they seemed not to heedwhat they gazed upon. They heard much of robbers, but theygradually began to slight these reports, which they imagined wereonly the invention of individuals, whose interest it was toexcite the generosity of those whom they defended from pretendeddangers. In consequence of thus neglecting the advice of theinhabitants, on one occasion they travelled with only a fewguards, more to serve as guides than as a defence. Upon entering,however, a narrow defile, at the bottom of which was the bed of atorrent, with large masses of rock brought down from theneighbouring precipices, they had reason to repent theirnegligence; for scarcely were tho whole of the party engaged inthe narrow pass, when they were startled by the whistling ofbullets close to their heads, and by the echoed report of severalguns. In an instant their guards had left them, and, placingthemselves behind rocks, had begun to fire in the directionwhence the report came. Lord Ruthven and Aubrey, imitating theirexample, retired for a moment behind the sheltering turn of thedefile: but ashamed of being thus detained by a foe, who withinsulting shouts bade them advance, and being exposed tounresisting slaughter, if any of the robbers should climb aboveand take them in the rear, they determined at once to rushforward in search of the enemy. Hardly had they lost the shelterof the rock, when Lord Ruthven received a shot in the shoulder,which brought him to the ground. Aubrey hastened to hisassistance; and, no longer heeding the contest or his own peril,was soon surprised by seeing the robbers' faces around him---hisguards having, upon Lord Ruthven's being wounded, immediatelythrown up their arms and surrendered.
By promises of great reward, Aubrey soon induced them toconvey his wounded friend to a neighbouring cabin; and havingagreed upon a ransom, he was no more disturbed by theirpresence---they being content merely to guard the entrance tilltheir comrade should return with the promised sum, for which hehad an order. Lord Ruthven's strength rapidly decreased; in twodays mortification ensued, and death seemed advancing with hastysteps. His conduct and appearance had not changed; he seemed asunconscious of pain as he had been of the objects about him: buttowards the close of the last evening, his mind became apparentlyuneasy, and his eye often fixed upon Aubrey, who was induced tooffer his assistance with more than usualearnestness—"Assist me! you may save me---you may do morethan that---I mean not my life, I heed the death of my existenceas little as that of the passing day; but you may save my honour,your friend's honour."---"How? tell me how? I would do anything," replied Aubrey. ---"I need but little---my life ebbsapace---I cannot explain the whole---but if you would conceal allyou know of me, my honour were free from stain in the world'smouth---and if my death were unknown for some time inEngland---I---I---but life."---" It shall not be known."---"Swear!" cried the dying man, raising himself with exultant violence, "Swear by all your soul reveres, by all your nature fears, swearthat, for a year and a day you will not impart your knowledge ofmy crimes or death to any living being in any way, whatever mayhappen, or whatever you may see. "---His eyes seemed burstingfrom their sockets: " I swear !" said Aubrey; he sunk laughingupon his pillow, and breathed no more.
Aubrey retired to rest, but did not sleep; the manycircumstances attending his acquaintance with this man rose uponhis mind, and he knew not why; when he remembered his oath a coldshivering came over him, as if from the presentiment of somethinghorrible awaiting him. Rising early in the morning, he was aboutto enter the hovel in which he had left the corpse, when a robbermet him, and informed him that it was no longer there, havingbeen conveyed by himself and comrades, upon his retiring, to thepinnacle of a neighbouring mount, according to a promise they hadgiven his lordship, that it should be exposed to the first coldray of the moon that rose after his death. Aubrey astonished, andtaking several of the men, determined to go and bury it upon thespot where it lay. But, when he had mounted to the summit hefound no trace of either the corpse or the clothes, though therobbers swore they pointed out the identical rock: on which theyhad laid the body. For a time his mind was bewildered inconjectures, but he at last returned, convinced that they hadburied the corpse for the sake of the clothes.
Weary of a country in which he had met with such terriblemisfortunes, and in which all apparently conspired to heightenthat superstitious melancholy that had seized upon his mind, heresolved to leave it, and soon arrived at Smyrna. While waitingfor a vessel to convey him to Otranto, or to Naples, he occupiedhimself in arranging those effects be had with him belonging toLord Ruthven. Amongst other things there was a case containingseveral weapons of offence, more or less adapted to ensure thedeath of the victim. There were several daggers and ataghans.Whilst turning them over, and examining their curious forms, whatwas his surprise at finding a sheath apparently ornamented in thesame style as the dagger discovered in the fatal hut---heshuddered---hastening to gain further proof, he found the weapon,and his horror may be imagined when he discovered that it fitted,though peculiarly shaped, the sheath he held in his hand. Hiseyes seemed to need no further certainty---they seemed gazing tobe bound to the dagger; yet still he wished to disbelieve; butthe particular form, the same varying tints upon the haft andsheath were alike in splendour on both, and left no room fordoubt; there were also drops of blood on each.
He left Smyrna, and on his way home, at Rome, his firstinquiries were concerning the lady he had attempted to snatchfrom Lord Ruthven's seductive arts. Her parents were in distress,their fortune ruined, and she had not been heard of since thedeparture of his lordship. Aubrey's mind became almost brokenunder so many repeated horrors; he was afraid that this lady hadfallen a victim to the destroyer of Ianthe. He became morose andsilent; and his only occupation consisted in urging the speed ofthe postilions, as if he were going to save the life of some onehe held dear. He arrived at Calais; a breeze, which seemedobedient to his will, soon wafted him to the English shores; andhe hastened to the mansion of his fathers, and there, for amoment, appeared to lose, in the embraces and caresses of hissister, all memory of the past. If she before, by her infantinecaresses, had gained his affection, now that the woman began toappear, she was still more attaching as a companion.
Miss Aubrey had not that winning grace which gains the gazeand applause of the drawing-room assemblies. There was none ofthat light brilliancy which only exists in the heated atmosphereof a crowded apartment. Her blue eye was never lit up by thelevity of the mind beneath. There was a melancholy charm about itwhich did not seem to arise from misfortune, but from somefeeling within, that appeared to indicate a soul conscious of abrighter realm. Her step was not that light footing, which strayswhere'er a butterfly or a colour may attract---it was sedate andpensive. When alone, her face was never brightened by the smileof joy; but when her brother breathed to her his affection, andwould in her presence forget those griefs she knew destroyed hisrest, who would have exchanged her smile for that of thevoluptuary? It seemed as if those eyes,---that face were thenplaying in the light of their own native sphere. She was yet onlyeighteen, and had not been presented to the world, it having beenthought by her guardians more fit that her presentation should bedelayed until her brother's return from the continent, when hemight be her protector. It was now, therefore, resolved that thenext drawing-room, which was fast approaching, should be theepoch of her entry into the "busy scene. " Aubrey would ratherhave remained in the mansion of his fathers, and fed upon themelancholy which overpowered him. He could not fed interest aboutthe frivolities of fashionable strangers, when his mind had beenso torn by the events he had witnessed; but he determined tosacrifice his own comfort to the protection of his sister. Theysoon arrived in town, and prepared for the next day, which hadbeen announced as a drawing-room.
The crowd was excessive---a drawing-room had not been held fora long time, and all who were anxious to bask in the smile ofroyalty, hastened thither. Aubrey was there with his sister.While he was standing in a corner by himself, heedless of allaround him, engaged in the remembrance that the first time he hadseen Lord Ruthven was in that very place---he felt himselfsuddenly seized by the arm, and a voice he recognized too well,sounded in his ear---" Remember your oath. " He had hardlycourage to turn, fearful of seeing a spectre that would blasthim, when he perceived, at a little distance, the same figurewhich had attracted his notice on this spot upon his first entryinto society. He gazed till his limbs almost refusing to beartheir weight, he was obliged to take the arm of a friend, andforcing a passage through the crowd, he threw himself into hiscarriage, and was driven home. He paced the room with hurriedsteps, and fixed his hands upon his head, as if he were afraidhis thoughts were bursting from his brain. Lord Ruthven againbefore him---circumstances started up in dreadful array---thedagger---his oath.---He roused himself, he could not believe itpossible---the dead rise again!---He thought his imagination hadconjured up the image, his mind was resting upon. It wasimpossible that it could be real— ---he determined,therefore, to go again into society; for though he attempted toask concerning Lord Ruthven, the name hung upon his lips, and hecould not succeed in gaining information. He went a few nightsafter with lib sister to the assembly of a near relation. Leavingher under the protection of a matron, ho retired into a recess,and there gave himself up to his own devouring thoughts.Perceiving, at last, that many were leaving, he roused himself,and entering another room, found his sister surrounded byseveral, apparently in earnest conversation; he attempted to passand get near her, when one, whom he requested to move, turnedround, and revealed to him those features he most abhorred. Hesprang forward, seized his sister's arm, and, with hurried step,forced her towards the street: at the door he found himselfimpeded by the crowd of servants who were waiting for theirlords; and while he was engaged in passing them, he again heardthat voice whisper close to him—"Remember youroath!"—He did not dare to turn, but, hurrying his sister,soon reached home.
Aubrey became almost distracted. If before his mind had beenabsorbed by one subject, how much more completely was itengrossed, now that the certainty of the monster's living againpressed upon his thoughts. His sister's attentions were nowunheeded, and it was in vain that she intreated him to explain toher what had caused his abrupt conduct. He only uttered a fewwords, and those terrified her. The more he thought, the more hewas bewildered. His oath startled him;—was he then to allowthis monster to roam, bearing ruin upon his breath, amidst all heheld dear, and not avert its progress? His very sister might havebeen touched by him. But even if he were to break his oath, anddisclose his suspicions, who would believe him? He thought ofemploying his own hand to free the world from such a wretch; butdeath, he remembered, had been already mocked. For days heremained in this state; shut up in his room, he saw no one, andeat only when his sister came, who, with eyes streaming withtears, besought him, for her sake, to support nature. At last, nolonger capable of bearing stillness and solitude, he left hishouse, roamed from street to street, anxious to fly that imagewhich haunted him. His dress became neglected, and he wandered,as often exposed to the noon-day sun as to the midnight damps. Hewas no longer to be recognized; at first he returned with theevening to the house; but at last he laid him down to restwherever fatigue overtook him. His sister, anxious for hissafety, employed people to follow him; but they were soondistanced by him who fled from a pursuer swifter than any---fromthought. His conduct, however, suddenly changed. Struck with theidea that he left by his absence the whole of his friends, with afiend amongst them, of whose presence they were unconscious, hedetermined to enter again into society, and watch him closely,anxious to forewarn, in spite of his oath, all whom Lord Ruthvenapproached with intimacy. But when he entered into a room, hishaggard and suspicious looks were so striking, his inwardshudderings so visible, that his sister was at last obliged tobeg of him to abstain from seeking, for her sake, a society whichaffected him so strongly. When, however, remonstrance provedunavailing, the guardians thought proper to interpose, and,fearing that his mind was becoming alienated, they thought ithigh time to resume again that trust which had been beforeimposed upon them by Aubrey's parents.
Desirous of saving him from the injuries and sufferings he haddaily encountered in his wanderings, and of preventing him fromexposing to the general eye those marks of what they consideredfolly, they engaged a physician to reside in the house, and takeconstant care of him. He hardly appeared to notice it, socompletely was his mind absorbed by one terrible subject. Hisincoherence became at last so great, that he was confined to hischamber. There he would often lie for days, incapable of beingroused. He had become emaciated, his eyes had attained a glassylustre;---the only sign of affection and recollection remainingdisplayed itself upon the entry of his sister; then he wouldsometimes start, and, seizing her hands, with looks that severelyaffliced her, he would desire her not to touch him. " Oh, do nottouch him---if your love for me is aught, do not go near him!"When, however, she inquired to whom he referred, his only answerwas, "True! true! and again he sank into a state, whence not evenshe could rouse him. This lasted many months: gradually, however,as the year was passing, his incoherences became less frequent,and his mind threw off a portion of its gloom, whilst hisguardians observed, that several times in the day he would countupon his fingers a definite number, and then smile.
The time had nearly elapsed, when, upon the last day of theyear, one of his guardians entering his room, began to conversewith his physician upon the melancholy circumstance of Aubrey'sbeing in so awful a situation, when his sister was going next dayto be married. Instantly Aubrey's attention was attracted; heasked anxiously to whom. Glad of this mark of returningintellect, of which they feared he had been deprived, theymentioned the name of the Earl of Marsden. Thinking this was ayoung Earl whom he had met with in society, Aubrey seemedpleased, and astonished them still more by his expressing hisintention to be present tit the nuptials, and desiring to see hissister. They answered not, but in a few minutes his sister waswith him. He was apparently again capable of being affected bythe influence of her lovely smile; for he pressed her to hisbreast, and kissed her check, wet with tears, flowing at thethought of her brother's being once more alive to the feelings ofaffection. He began to speak with all his wonted warmth, and tocongratulate her upon her marriage with a person so distinguishedfor rank and every accomplishment; when he suddenly perceived alocket upon her breast; opening it, what was his surprise atbeholding the features of the monster who had so long influencedhis life. He seized the portrait in a paroxysm of rage, andtrampled it under foot. Upon her asking him why he thus destroyedthe resemblance of her future husband, he looked as if he did notunderstand her---then seizing her hands, and gazing on her with afrantic expression of countenance, he bade her swear that shewould never wed this monster, for he----But he could notadvance---it seemed as if that voice again bade him remember hisoath---he turned suddenly round, thinking Lord Ruthven was nearhim but saw no one. In the meantime the guardians and physician,who had heard the whole, and thought this was but a return of hisdisorder, entered, and forcing him from Miss Aubrey, desired herto leave him. He fell upon his knees to them, he implored, hebegged of them to delay but for one day. They, attributing thisto the insanity they imagined had taken possession of his mind,endeavoured to pacify him, and retired.
Lord Ruthven had called the morning after the drawing-room,and had been refused with every one else. When he heard ofAubrey's ill health, he readily understood himself to be thecause of it; but when he learned that he was deemed insane, hisexultation and pleasure could hardly be concealed from thoseamong whom he had gained this information. He hastened to thehouse of his former companion, and, by constant attendance, andthe pretence of great affection for the brother and interest inhis fate, he gradually won the car of Miss Aubrey. Who couldresist his power? His tongue had dangers and toils torecount—could speak of himself as of an individual havingno sympathy with any being on the crowded earth, save with her towhom he addressed himself;—could tell how, since he knewher, his existence, had begun to seem worthy of preservation, ifit were merely that he might listen to her soothingaccents;—in fine, he knew so well how to use the serpent'sart, or such was the will of fate, that he gained her affections.The title of the elder branch falling at length to him, lieobtained an important embassy, which served as an excuse forhastening the marriage, (in spite of her brother's derangedstate,) which was to take place the very day before his departurefor the continent.
Aubrey, when he was left by the physician and his guardians,attempted to bribe the servants, but in vain. He asked for penand paper; it was given him; be wrote a letter to his sister,conjuring her, as she valued her own happiness, her own honour,and the honour of those now in the grave, who once held her intheir arms as their hope and the hope of their house, to delaybut for a few hours that marriage, on which he denounced the mostheavy curses. The servants promised they would deliver it; butgiving it to the physician, he thought it better not to harassany more the mind of Miss Aubrey by, what he considered, theravings of a maniac. Night passed on without rest to the busyinmates of the house; and Aubrey heard, with a horror that maymore easily be conceived than described, the notes of busypreparation. Morning came, and the sound of carriages broke uponhis ear. Aubrey grew almost frantic. The curiosity of theservants at last overcame their vigilance, they gradually stoleaway, leaving him in the custody of an helpless old woman. Heseized the opportunity, with one bound was out of the room, andin a moment found himself in the apartment where all were nearlyassembled. Lord Ruthven was the first to perceive him: lieimmediately approached, and, taking his arm by force, hurried himfrom the room, speechless with rage. When on the staircase, LordRuthven whispered in his ear—" Remember your oath, andknow, if not my bride to day, your sister is dishonoured. Womenare frail!" So saying, he pushed him towards his attendants, who,roused by the old woman, had come in search of him. Aubrey couldno longer support himself; his rage not finding vent, had brokena blood-vessel, and he was conveyed to bed. This was notmentioned to his sister, who was not present when he entered, asthe physician was afraid of agitating her. The marriage wassolemnized, and the bride and bridegroom left London.
Aubrey's weakness increased; the effusion of blood producedsymptoms of the near approach of death. He desired his sister'sguardians might be called, and when the midnight hour had struck,he related composedly what the reader has perused—he diedimmediately after.
The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when theyarrived, it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, andAubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a VAMPYRE!