The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
MEANWHILE the Earl remained a solitary prisoner in the tower; uncertain fate
was yet suspended over him; he had, however, a magnanimity in his nature
which baffled much of the cruel effort of the Baron. He had prepared his mind by
habitual contemplation for the worst, and although that worst was death, he could
now look to it even with serenity. Those violent transports which had assailed him
on sight of the Baron, were, since he was no longer subject to his presence,
reduced within their proper limits; yet he anxiously avoided dwelling on the
memory of his father, lest those dreadful sensations should threaten him with
returning torture. Whenever he permitted himself to think of the sufferings of the
Countess and his sister, his heart melted with a sorrow that almost unnerved
him; much he wished to know how they supported this trial, and much he wished
that he could convey to them intelligence of his state. He endeavoured to
abstract his mind from his situation, and sought to make himself artificial comforts
even from the barren objects around him; his chief amusement was in observing
the manners and customs of the birds of prey which lodged themselves in the
battlements of his tower, and the rapacity of their nature furnished him with too
just a parallel to the habits of men.
As he was one day standing at the grate which looked upon the castle,
observing the progress of these birds, his ear caught the sound of that sweet lute
whose notes had once saved him from destruction; it was accompanied by the
same melodious voice he had formerly heard, and which now sung with
impassioned tenderness the following air:
When first the vernal morn of life
Beam'd on my infant eye,
Fond I survey'd the smiling scene,
Nor saw the tempest nigh.
Hope's bright illusions touch'd my soul,
My young ideas led;
And Fancy's vivid tints combin'd,
And fairy prospect spread.
My guileless heart expanded wide,
With filial fondness fraught;
Paternal love that heart supplied
With all its fondness sought.
But O! the cruel quick reverse!
Fate all I loved involv'd;
Pale Grief Hope's trembling rays dispers'd,
And Fancy's dreams dissolv'd.
Lost in surprize, Osbert stood for some time looking down upon an inner
court, whence the sounds seemed to arise; after a few minutes he observed a
young lady enter from that side on which the tower arose; on her arm rested an
elder one, in whose face might be traced the lines of decaying beauty; but it was
visible, from the melancholy which clouded her features, that the finger of