The Mysteries of Udolpho HTML version

Chapter III.1
I will advise you where to plant yourselves;
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time,
The moment on 't; for 't must be done to-night.
Emily was somewhat surprised, on the following day, to find that Annette had heard of
Madame Montoni's confinement in the chamber over the portal, as well as of her
purposed visit there, on the approaching night. That the circumstance, which Barnardine
had so solemnly enjoined her to conceal, he had himself told to so indiscreet an hearer as
Annette, appeared very improbable, though he had now charged her with a message,
concerning the intended interview. He requested, that Emily would meet him, unattended,
on the terrace, at a little after midnight, when he himself would lead her to the place he
had promised; a proposal, from which she immediately shrunk, for a thousand vague
fears darted athwart her mind, such as had tormented her on the preceding night, and
which she neither knew how to trust, or to dismiss. It frequently occurred to her, that
Barnardine might have deceived her, concerning Madame Montoni, whose murderer,
perhaps, he really was; and that he had deceived her by order of Montoni, the more easily
to draw her into some of the desperate designs of the latter. The terrible suspicion, that
Madame Montoni no longer lived, thus came, accompanied by one not less dreadful for
herself. Unless the crime, by which the aunt had suffered, was instigated merely by
resentment, unconnected with profit, a motive, upon which Montoni did not appear very
likely to act, its object must be unattained, till the niece was also dead, to whom Montoni
knew that his wife's estates must descend. Emily remembered the words, which had
informed her, that the contested estates in France would devolve to her, if Madame
Montoni died, without consigning them to her husband, and the former obstinate
perseverance of her aunt made it too probable, that she had, to the last, withheld them. At
this instant, recollecting Barnardine's manner, on the preceding night, she now believed,
what she had then fancied, that it expressed malignant triumph. She shuddered at the
recollection, which confirmed her fears, and determined not to meet him on the terrace.
Soon after, she was inclined to consider these suspicions as the extravagant exaggerations
of a timid and harassed mind, and could not believe Montoni liable to such preposterous
depravity as that of destroying, from one motive, his wife and her niece. She blamed
herself for suffering her romantic imagination to carry her so far beyond the bounds of
probability, and determined to endeavour to check its rapid flights, lest they should
sometimes extend into madness. Still, however, she shrunk from the thought of meeting
Barnardine, on the terrace, at midnight; and still the wish to be relieved from this terrible
suspense, concerning her aunt, to see her, and to sooth her sufferings, made her hesitate
what to do.