"You are right; and he could not obtain you a secret interview. One of the maids of honor must always be present, and the princess is surrounded by many spies. But there is a means, and it lies in my hands. Listen!"
Ranuzi's face sparkled with triumph.
"To-morrow, then," said he, as he withdrew.
"To-morrow," said Louise, "expect me at the castle gate, and be punctual."
The heavy curtains were drawn down, and a gloomy twilight reigned in this great, silent room, whose dreary stillness was only interrupted by the monotonous stroke of the clock, and the deep sighs and lamentations which came from the sofa in a distant part of the room. There in the corner, drawn up convulsively and motionless, lay a female form, her hands clasped over her breast, her eyes fixed staringly toward heaven, and from time to time uttering words of grief and scorn and indignation.
She was alone in her anguish--ever alone; she had been alone for many years; grief and disappointment had hardened her heart, and made it insensible to all sorrows but her own. She hated men, she hated the world, she railed at those who were gay and happy, she had no pity for those who wept and mourned.
Had she not suffered more? Did she not still suffer? Who had been merciful, who had pitied her sorrows? Look now at this poor, groaning woman! Do you recognize these fearful features, deformed by sickness and grief; these blood-shot eyes, these thin, colorless lips, ever convulsively pressed together, as if to suppress a wild shriek of agony, which are only unclosed to utter cold, harsh words of scorn and passion? Do you know this woman? Has this poor, unhappy, deformed being any resemblance to the gay, beautiful, intellectual Princess Amelia, whom we once knew? and yet this is the Princess Amelia. How have the mighty fallen! Look at the transforming power of a few sorrowful years! The sister of a mighty hero king, but a poor desolate creature, shunned and avoided by all: she knows that men fly from her, and she will have it so; she will be alone--lonely in the midst of the world, even as he is, in the midst of his dark and gloomy prison. Amelia calls the whole world her prison; she often says to herself that her soul is shut in behind the iron bars of her body and can never be delivered, that her heart lies upon the burning gridiron of the base world, and cannot escape, it is bound there with the same chains which are around about and hold him in captivity.
But Amelia says this only to herself, she desires no sympathy, she knows no one will dare to pity her. Destiny placed her high in rank and alone--alone she will remain; her complaints might perhaps bring new danger to him she loves, of whom alone she thinks, for whose sake alone she supports existence, she lives only for him. Can this be called life? A perpetual hope--and yet hopeless--a constant watching and listening for one happy moment, which never comes! She had not been permitted to live for him, she would not die without him. So long as he lived he might need her aid, and might call upon her for help in the hour of extremest need, so she would not die.