Read Penny Dreadful Multipack Vol. 1 (Illustrated. Annotated. 'Wagner The Wehr-Wolf,' 'Varney The Vampire,' 'The Mysteries of London Vol. 1' + Bonus Features) (Penny Dreadful Multipacks) Online
Authors: George W. M. Reynolds,James Malcolm Rymer
“On discovering this robbery, I
began to suspect that my mysterious visitress, who had caused me so much alarm,
was the thief of my property; and I immediately summoned old Margaretha. She
was of course astounded at the occurrence which I related; and, after some
reflection, she suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to fasten the
house-door ere she retired to rest on the preceding evening. I chided her for a
neglect which had enabled some evil-disposed woman to penetrate into my
chamber, and not only terrify but also plunder me. She implored my forgiveness,
and besought me not to mention the incident to the count when next we met.
Alas! my noble Andrea and I never met again.
“I was sorely perplexed by the
event which I have just related. If the mysterious visitress were a common
thief, why did she leave any of the jewels in the casket? and wherefore had she
on two occasions contemplated me with looks of such dark rage and infernal
menace? A thought struck me. Could the count’s daughter have discovered our
and was it she who had come to gain possession of jewels belonging to the
family? I hinted my suspicions to Margaretha; but she speedily convinced me
that they were unfounded.
“‘The Lady Nisida is deaf and
dumb,’ she said, ‘and cannot possibly exercise such faculties of observation,
nor adopt such
obtaining information as would make her acquainted with all that has occurred
between her father and yourself. Besides—she is constantly in attendance on her
sire, who is very, very ill.
“I now perceived the
improbability of a deaf and dumb female discovering an
so carefully concealed; but to assure
myself more fully on that head, I desired Margaretha to describe the Lady
Nisida. This she readily did, and I learnt from her that the count’s daughter
was of a beauty quite different from the lady whom I had seen in the church and
in my own chamber. In a word, it appears that Nisida has light hair, blue eyes
and a delicate form: whereas, the object of my interest, curiosity, and fear, is
a woman of dark Italian loveliness.
“I have little more now to say.
The loss of the jewels and the recollection of the mysterious lady were soon
absorbed in the distressing thoughts which the serious illness of the count
forced upon my mind. Weeks passed away, and he came not; but he sent repeated
messages by Antonio, imploring me to console myself, as he should soon recover,
and urging me not to take any step that might betray the existence of our
Need I say how religiously I obeyed him in the latter respect? Day after day
did I hope to see him again, for I knew not that he was dying: and I used to
dress myself in my gayest attire—even as now I am appareled—to welcome his
expected visit. Alas! he never came; and his death was concealed from me, doubtless
that the sad event might not be communicated until after the funeral, lest in
the first frenzy of anguish I should rush to the Riverola palace to imprint a
last kiss upon the cheek of the corpse. But a few hours ago, I learned the
whole truth from two female friends of Dame Margaretha who called to visit her,
and whom I had hastened to inform that she was temporarily absent. My noble
Andrea was dead, and at that very moment his funeral obsequies were being
celebrated in the neighboring church—the very church in which I had first
beheld the mysterious lady! Frantic with grief—unmindful of the exposure that
would ensue—reckless of the consequences, I left the house—I hastened to the
church—I intruded my presence amidst the mourners. You know the rest, Fernand.
It only remains for me to say that the countenance which I beheld ere now at
the window—strongly delineated and darkly conspicuous amidst the blaze of light
outside the casement—was that of the lady whom I have thus seen for the third
time! But, tell me, Fernand, how could a stranger thus obtain admission to the
gardens of your mansion?”
“You see yon lights, Agnes!” said
Wagner, pointing toward the mansion which, as we stated at the commencement of
that chapter, was situated at a distance of about two hundred yards from
Fernand’s dwelling, the backs of the two houses thus looking toward each other.
“Those lights,” he continued, “are shining in a mansion the gardens of which
are separated from my own by a simple hedge of evergreens, that would not bar even
the passage of a child. Should any inmate of that mansion possess curiosity
sufficient to induce him or her to
the boundary, traverse my gardens, and approach the casements of my residence,
that curiosity may be easily gratified.”
“And to whom does yon mansion
belong?” asked Agnes.
“To Dr. Duras, an eminent
physician,” was the reply.
“Dr. Duras, the physician who
attended my noble Andrea in his illness!” exclaimed Agnes. “Then the mysterious
lady of whom I have spoken so much, and whose countenance ere now appeared at
the casement, must be an inmate of the house of Dr. Duras; or at all events, a
visitor there! Ah! surely there is some connection between that lady and the
family at Riverola?”
“Time will solve the mystery,
dearest sister, for so I am henceforth to call you,” said Fernand. “But beneath
this roof, no harm can menace you. And now let me summon good Dame Paula, my
housekeeper, to conduct you to the apartments which have been prepared for your
reception. The morning is far advanced, and we both stand in need of rest.”
Dame Paula, an elderly,
good-tempered, kind-hearted matron, shortly made her appearance; and to her
charge did Wagner consign his newly-found relative, whom he now represented to
be his sister.
But as Agnes accompanied the worthy
woman from the apartment, she shuddered involuntarily as she passed the frame
which was covered with the black cloth, and which seemed ominous amidst the
blaze of light that filled the room.
the ensuing evening, Francisco,
Count of Riverola, was seated in one of the splendid saloons of his palace,
pondering upon the strange injunction which he had received from his deceased
father, relative to the mysterious closet, when Wagner was announced.
Francisco rose to receive him,
saying in a cordial though melancholy tone, “Signor, I expected you.”
“And let me hasten to express the
regret which I experienced at having addressed your lordship coldly and
haughtily last night,” exclaimed Wagner. “But, at the moment, I only beheld in
you the son of him who had dishonored a being very dear to my heart.”
“I can well understand your
feelings on that occasion, signor,” replied Francisco. “Alas! the sins of the
fathers are too often visited upon the children in this world. But, in whatever
direction our present conversation may turn, I implore you to spare as much as
possible the memory of my sire.”
“Think not, my lord,” said
Wagner, “that I should be so ungenerous as to reproach you for a deed in which
you had no concern, and over which you exercised no control. Nor should I
inflict so deep an injury upon you, as to speak in disrespectful terms of him
who was the author of your being, but who is now no more.”
“Your kind language has
already made me your friend,” exclaimed Francisco. “And now point out to me in
what manner I can in any way repair—or mitigate—the wrong done to that fair
creature in whom you express yourself interested.”
“That young lady is my sister,”
said Wagner, emphatically.
“Your sister, signor! And yet,
meseems, she recognized you not——”
“Long years have passed since we
saw each other,” interrupted Fernand; “for we were separated in our childhood.”
“And did you not both speak of
some relative—an old man who once dwelt on the confines of the Black Forest of
Germany, but who is now in Florence?” asked Francisco.
“Alas! that old man is no more,”
returned Wagner. “I did but use his name to induce Agnes to place confidence in
me, and allow me to withdraw her from a scene which her wild grief so
unpleasantly interrupted; for I thought that were I then and there to announce
myself as her brother, she might not believe me—she might suspect some
treachery or snare in a city so notoriously profligate as Florence. But the
subsequent explanations which took place between us cleared up all doubts on
“I am well pleased to hear that
the poor girl has found so near a relative and so dear a friend, signor,” said
Francisco. “And now acquaint me, I pray thee, with the means whereby I may, to
some extent, repair the injury your sister has sustained at the hands of him
whose memory I implore you to spare!”
“Wealth I possess in
abundance—oh! far greater abundance than is necessary to satisfy all my wants!”
exclaimed Wagner, with something of bitterness and regret in his tone; “but,
even were I poor, gold would not restore my sister’s honor. No—let that
subject, however, pass. I would only ask you, count, whether there be any scion
of your family—any lady connected with you—who answers this description?”
And Wagner proceeded to
delineate, in minute terms, the portraiture of the mysterious lady who had
inspired Agnes on three occasions with so much terror, and whom Agnes herself
had depicted in such glowing language.
“Signor! you are describing the
Lady Nisida, my sister!” exclaimed Francisco, struck with astonishment at the
fidelity of the portrait thus verbally drawn.
“Your sister, my lord!” cried
Wagner. “Then has Dame Margaretha deceived Agnes in representing the Lady
Nisida to be rather a beauty of the cold north than of the sunny south.”
“Dame Margaretha!” said
Francisco; “do you allude, signor, to the mother of my late father’s
confidential dependent, Antonio?”
“The same,” was the answer. “It
was at Dame Margaretha’s house that your father placed my sister Agnes, who has
resided there nearly four years.”
“But wherefore have you made
those inquiries relative to the Lady Nisida?” inquired Francisco.
“I will explain the motive
with frankness,” responded Wagner.
He then related to the young
count all those particulars relative to the mysterious lady and Agnes, with
which the reader is already acquainted.
“There must be some extraordinary
mistake—some strange error, signor, in all this,” observed Francisco. “My poor
sister is, as you seem to be aware, so deeply afflicted that she possesses not
faculties calculated to make her aware of that
which even I, who possess those
faculties in which she is deficient, never suspected, and concerning which no
hint ever reached me, until the whole truth burst suddenly upon me last night
at the funeral of my sire. Moreover, had accident revealed to Nisida the
existence of the connection between my father and your sister, signor, she
would have imparted the discovery to me, such is the confidence and so great is
the love that exists between us. For habit has rendered us so skillful and
quick in conversing with the language of the deaf and dumb, that no impediment
ever exists to the free interchange of our thoughts.”
“And yet, if the Lady Nisida
made such a discovery, her hatred of Agnes
may be well understood,” said Wagner; “for her ladyship must naturally look
upon my sister as the partner of her father’s weakness—the dishonored slave of
“Nisida has no secret from me,”
observed the young count, firmly.
“But wherefore did Dame
Margaretha deceive my sister in respect to the personal appearance of the Lady
Nisida?” inquired Wagner.
“I know not. At the same time——”
The door opened, and Nisida
entered the apartment.
She was attired in deep black;
her luxuriant raven hair, no longer depending in shining curls, was gathered up
in massy bands at the sides, and a knot behind, whence hung a rich veil that
meandered over her body’s splendidly symmetrical length of limb in such a
manner as to aid her attire in shaping rather than hiding the contours of that
matchless form. The voluptuous development of her bust was shrouded, not
concealed, by the stomacher of black velvet which she wore, and which set off
in strong relief the dazzling whiteness of her neck.
The moment her lustrous dark eyes
fell upon Fernand Wagner, she started slightly; but this movement was
imperceptible alike to him whose presence caused it, and to her brother.
Francisco conveyed to her, by the
rapid language of the fingers, the name of their visitor, and at the same time
intimated to her that he was the brother of Agnes, the young and lovely female
whose strange appearance at the funeral, and avowed connection with the late
noble, had not been concealed from the haughty lady.
Nisida’s eyes seemed to gleam
with pleasure when she understood in what degree of relationship Wagner stood
toward Agnes; and she bowed to him with a degree of courtesy seldom displayed
by her to strangers.
Francisco then conveyed to
her in the language of the dumb, all those details already related in respect
to the “mysterious lady” who had so haunted the unfortunate Agnes.
A glow of indignation mounted to
the cheeks of Nisida; and more than usually rapid was the reply she made
through the medium of the alphabet of the fingers.
“My sister desires me to express
to you, signor,” said Francisco, turning toward Wagner, “that she is not the
person whom the Lady Agnes has to complain against. My sister,” he continued,
“has never to her knowledge seen the Lady Agnes; much less has she ever penetrated
into her chamber; and indignantly does she repel the accusation relative to the
abstraction of the jewels. She also desires me to inform you that last night
after reading of our father’s last testament, she retired to her chamber, which
she did not quit until this morning at the usual hour; and that therefore it
was not her countenance which the Lady Agnes beheld at the casement of your
“I pray you, my lord, to let the
subject drop now, and forever!” said Wagner, who was struck with profound admiration—almost
amounting to love—for the Lady Nisida: “there is some strange mystery in all
this, which time alone can clear up. Will your lordship express to your sister
how grieved I am that any suspicion should have originated against her in
respect to Agnes?”
Francisco signaled these remarks
to Nisida; and the latter, rising from her seat, advanced toward Wagner, and
presented him her hand in token of her readiness to forget the injurious
imputations thrown out against her.
Fernand raised that fair hand to
his lips, and respectfully kissed it; but the hand seemed to burn as he held
it, and when he raised his eyes toward the lady’s countenance, she darted on
him a look so ardent and impassioned that it penetrated into his very soul.
That rapid interchange of glances
seemed immediately to establish a kind of understanding—a species of intimacy
between those extraordinary beings; for on the one side, Nisida read in the
fine eyes of the handsome Fernand all the admiration expressed there, and he,
on his part, instinctively understood that he was far from disagreeable to the
proud sister of the young Count of Riverola. While he was ready to fall at her
feet and do homage to her beauty, she experienced the kindling of all the
fierce fires of sensuality in her breast.
But the unsophisticated and
innocent-minded Francisco observed not the expression of these emotions on
either side, for their manifestation occupied not a moment. The interchange of
such feelings is ever too vivid and electric to attract the notice of the
When Wagner was about to retire,
Nisida made the following signal to her brother:—“Express to the signor that he
will ever be a welcome guest at the palace of Riverola; for we owe kindness and
friendship to the brother of her whom our father dishonored.”
But, to the astonishment of both
the count and the Lady
Wagner raised his hands, and displayed as perfect a knowledge of the language
of the dumb as they themselves possessed.
“I thank your ladyship for this
unexpected condescension,” he signaled by the rapid play of his fingers; “and I
shall not forget to avail myself of this most courteous invitation.”
It were impossible to describe
the sudden glow of pleasure and delight which animated Nisida’s splendid
countenance, when she thus discovered that Wagner was able to hold converse
with her, and she hastened to reply thus: “We shall expect you to revisit us
Wagner bowed low and took his
departure, his mind full of the beautiful Nisida.