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The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne

Chapter VI
THE castle of Dunbayne was still the scene of triumph, and of wretchedness.
Malcolm, exulting in his scheme, already beheld Mary at his feet, and the Earl
retiring in an anguish more poignant than that of death. He was surprized that his
invention had not before supplied him with this means of torture: for the first time
he welcomed love, as the instrument of his revenge; and the charms of Mary
were heightened to his imagination by the ardent colours of this passion. He was
confirmed in his resolves, never to relinquish the Earl, but on the conditions he
had offered; and thus for ever would he preserve the house of Athlin a monument
of his triumph.
Osbert, for greater security, was conveyed from the tower into a more
centrical part of the castle, to an apartment spacious but gloomy, whose gothic
windows partly excluding light, threw a solemnity around, which chilled the heart
almost to horror. He heeded not this; his heart was occupied with horrors of its
own. He was now involved in a misery more intricate, and more dreadful, than his
imagination had yet painted. To die, was to him, who had so long contemplated
the near approach of death, a familiar and transient evil; but to see, even in idea,
his family involved in infamy, and in union with the murderer, was the stroke
which pierced his heart to its center. He feared that the cruel tenderness of the
mother would tempt Matilda to accept the offers of the Baron; and he scarcely
doubted, that the noble Mary would resign herself the price of his life. He would
have written to the Countess to have forbidden her acceptance of the terms, and
to have declared his fixed resolution to die, but that he had no means of
conveying to her a letter; the soldier who had so generously undertaken the
conveyance of his former one, having soon after disappeared from his station.
The manly fortitude which had supported him through his former trials, did not
desert him in this hour of darkness; habituated so long to struggle with opposing
feelings, he had acquired the art of managing them; his mind attained a
confidence in its powers; resistance served only to increase its strength, and to
confirm the magnanimity of its nature.
Alleyn had now joined the clan, and was ardent in pursuit of the necessary
intelligence. He learned that the Earl had been removed from the tower, but in
what part of the castle he was now confined he could not discover; on this point
all was vague conjecture. That he was alive, was only judged from the policy of
the Baron, whose ardent passion for Mary was now well understood. Alleyn
employed every stratagem his invention could suggest, to discover the prison of
the Earl, but without success: at length compelled to deliver to Malcolm the
message of the Countess, he demanded as a preliminary, that the Earl should be
shewn to his people from the ramparts, that they might be certain he was still
alive. Alley hoped that his appearance would lead to a discovery of the place of
his imprisonment, purposing to observe narrowly the way by which he should
retire.
The Earl appeared in safety on the ramparts, amid the shouts and
acclamations of his people; the Baron frowning defiance, was seen at his side.
 
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