The Bride of Lammermoor
Who comes from the bridal chamber?
It is Azrael, the angel of death.
AFTER the dreadful scene that had taken place at the castle, Lucy was
transported to her own chamber, where she remained for some time in a state of
absolute stupor. Yet afterwards, in the course of the ensuing day, she seemed to
have recovered, not merely her spirits and resolution, but a sort of flighty levity,
that was foreign to her character and situation, and which was at times
chequered by fits of deep silence and melancholy and of capricious pettishness.
Lady Ashton became much alarmed and consulted the family physicians. But as
her pulse indicated no change, they could only say that the disease was on the
spirits, and recommended gentle exercise and amusement. Miss Ashton never
alluded to what had passed in the state-room. It seemed doubtful even if she was
conscious of it, for she was often observed to raise her hands to her neck, as if in
search of the ribbon that had been taken from it, and mutter, in surprise and
discontent, when she could not find it, "It was the link that bound me to life."
Notwithstanding all these remarkable symptoms, Lady Ashton was too deeply
pledged to delay her daughter's marriage even in her present state of health. It
cost her much trouble to keep up the fair side of appearances towards Bucklaw.
She was well aware, that if he once saw any reluctance on her daughter's part,
he would break off the treaty, to her great personal shame and dishonour. She
therefore resolved that, if Lucy continued passive, the marriage should take place
upon the day that had been previously fixed, trusting that a change of place, of
situation, and of character would operate a more speedy and effectual cure upon
the unsettled spirits of her daughter than could be attained by the slow measures
which the medical men recommended. Sir William Ashton's views of family
aggrandisement, and his desire to strengthen himself against the measures of
the Marquis of A----, readily induced him to acquiesce in what he could not have
perhaps resisted if willing to do so. As for the young men, Bucklaw and Colonel
Ashton, they protested that, after what had happened, it would be most
dishonourable to postpone for a single hour the time appointed for the marriage,
as it would be generally ascribed to their being intimidated by the intrusive visit
and threats of Ravenswood.
Bucklaw would indeed have been incapable of such precipitation, had he been
aware of the state of Miss Ashton's health, or rather of her mind. But custom,
upon these occasions, permitted only brief and sparing intercourse between the
bridegroom and the betrothed; a circumstance so well improved by Lady Ashton,
that Bucklaw neither saw nor suspected the real state of the health and feelings
of his unhappy bride.
On the eve of the bridal day, Lucy appeared to have one of her fits of levity, and
surveyed with a degree of girlish interest the various preparations of dress, etc.,
etc., which the different members of the family had prepared for the occasion.