apes. Quickly they came through the old men and the women
"No, I will not, and I will never do it!" exclaimed her brother, solemnly. "The Howards bow not before the Seymours; and never will Henry Howard marry a wife that he does not love!"
"Ah, you love her not!" said she, breathless, gnashing her teeth. "You do not love Lady Margaret; and for this reason must your sister renounce her love, and give up this man whom she adores. Ah, you love not this sister of Thomas Seymour? She is not the Geraldine whom you adore--to whom you dedicate your verses! Well, now, I will find her out--your Geraldine. I will discover her; and then, woe to you and to her! You refuse me your hand to lead me to the altar with Thomas Seymour; well, now, I will one day extend you my hand to conduct you and your Geraldine to the scaffold!"
And as she saw how the earl startled and turned pale, she continued with a scornful laugh: "Ah, you shrink, and horror creeps over you! Does your conscience admonish you that the hero, rigid in virtue, may yet sometimes make a false step? You thought to hide your secret, if you enveloped it in the veil of night, like your Geraldine, who, as you wailingly complain in that poem there, never shows herself to you without a veil as black as night. Just wait, wait! I will strike a light for you, before which all your night- like veils shall he torn in shreds; I will light up the night of your secret with a torch which will be large enough to set on fire the fagot piles ahout the stake to which you and your Geraldine are to go!"
"Ah, now you let me see for the first time your real countenance," said Henry Howard, shrugging his shoulders. "The angel's mask falls from your face; and I behold the fury that was hidden beneath it. Now you are your mother's own daughter; and at this moment I comprehend for the first time what my father has suffered, and why he shunned not even the disgrace of a divorce, just to be delivered from such a Megaera."
"Oh, I thank you, thank you!" cried she, with a savage laugh. "You are filling up the measure of your iniquity. It is not enough that you drive your sister to despair; you revile your mother also! You say that we are furies; well, indeed, for we shall one day be such to you, and we will show you our Medusa-face, before which you will be stiffened to stone. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, from this hour out, I am your implacable enemy; look out for the head on your shoulders, for my hand is raised against it, and in my hand is a sword! Guard well the secret that sleeps in your breast; for you have transformed me to a vampire that will suck your heart's blood. You have reviled my mother, and I will go hence and tell her of it. She will believe me; for she well knows that you hate her, and that you are a genuine son of your father; that is to say, a canting hypocrite, a miserable fellow, who carries virtue on the lips and crime in the heart."
"Cease, I say, cease," cried the earl, "if you do not want me to forget that you are a woman and my sister!"
"Forget it by all means," said she, scornfully. "I have forgotten long since that you are my brother, as you have long since forgotten that you are the son of your mother. Farewell, Earl of Surrey; I leave you and your palace, and will from this hour out abide with my mother. the divorced wife of the Duke of Norfolk. But mark you this: we two are separated from you in our love--but not in our hate! Our hatred to you remains eternal and unchangeable; and one day it will crush you! Farewell, Earl of Surrey; we meet again in the king's presence!"
She rushed to the door. Henry Howard did not hold her back. He looked after her with a smile as she left the cabinet, and murmured, almost compassionately: "Poor woman! I have, perhaps, cheated her out of a lover, and she will never forgive me that. Well, let it be so! Let her, as much as she pleases, be my enemy, and torment me with petty pin-prickings, if she be but unable to harm her. I hope, though, that I have guarded well my secret, and she could not suspect the real cause of my refusal. Ah, I was obliged to wrap myself in that foolish family pride, and make haughtiness a cloak for my love. Oh, Geraldine, thee would I choose, wert thou the daughter of a peasant; and I would not hold my escutcheon tarnished, if for thy sake I must draw a pale athwart it.--But hark! It is striking four! My service begins! Farewell, Geraldine, I must to the queen!"
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