Avenger Story 1

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  • 8/20/2019 Avenger Story 1



    It was in September, 1815, that I received a letter from the chief  secretary to the Prince of M----, a nobleman connected with the

    diplomacy of !ssia, from which I "!ote an e#tract$ %I wish, in short, to recommend to yo!r attentions, and in terms stronger than

    I &now how to devise, a yo!ng man on whose behalf the c'ar himself  is privately &nown to have e#pressed the very strongest interest( )e was at the battle of *aterloo as an aide-de-camp to a +!tch general officer, and is decorated with distinctions won !pon that awf!l day( )owever, tho!gh serving in that instance !nder nglish orders, and altho!gh an nglishman of ran&, he does not belong to the nglish military service( )e has served, yo!ng as he is, !nder AI./S banners, and !nder o!rs, in partic!lar, in the cavalry of 

    o!r imperial g!ard( )e is nglish by birth, nephew to the arl of  (, and heir pres!mptive to his immense estates( 0here is a wild

    story c!rrent, that his mother was a gypsy of transcendent bea!ty, which may acco!nt for his somewhat Moorish comple#ion, tho!gh,

    after all, 0)A0 is not of a deeper tinge than I have seen among many an nglishman( )e is himself one of the noblest loo&ing of  od2s creat!res( 3oth father and mother, however, are now dead( Since then he has become the favorite of his !ncle, who detained him in ngland after the emperor had departed--and, as this !ncle is now in the last stage of infirmity, Mr( *yndham2s s!ccession to

    the vast family estates is inevitable, and probably near at hand( Meantime, he is an#io!s for some assistance in his st!dies(

    Intellect!ally he stands in the very first ran& of men, as I am s!re yo! will not be slow to discover4 b!t his long military

    service, and the !nparalleled t!m!lt of o!r !ropean history since 185, have interfered 6as yo! may s!ppose7 with the c!ltivation of  his mind4 for he entered the cavalry service of a erman power when a mere boy, and shifted abo!t from service to service as the h!rricane of war blew from this point or from that( +!ring the rench anabasis to Moscow he entered o!r service, made himself a prodigio!s favorite with the whole imperial family, and even now is only in his twenty-second year( As to his accomplishments, they

    will spea& for themselves4 they are infinite, and applicable to every sit!ation of life( ree& is what he wants from yo!4--never

    as& abo!t terms( )e will ac&nowledge any tro!ble he may give yo!,as he ac&nowledges all tro!ble, en prince( And ten years hence yo! will loo& bac& with pride !pon having contrib!ted yo!r part to the formation of one whom all here at St( Petersb!rg, not soldiers only, b!t we diplomates, loo& !pon as certain to prove a great man, and a leader among the intellects of 9hristendom(%

    0wo or three other letters followed4 and at length it was arranged

    that Mr( Ma#imilian *yndham sho!ld ta&e !p his residence at my monastic abode for one year( )e was to &eep a table, and an

    establishment of servants, at his own cost4 was to have an apartment of some do'en or so of rooms4 the !nrestricted !se of the

    library4 with some other p!blic privileges willingly conceded by the magistracy of the town4 in ret!rn for all which he was to pay me a tho!sand g!ineas4 and already beforehand, by way of 

  • 8/20/2019 Avenger Story 1


    ac&nowledgment for the p!blic civilities of the town, he sent, thro!gh my hands, a contrib!tion of three h!ndred g!ineas to the vario!s local instit!tions for ed!cation of the poor, or for charity(

    0he !ssian secretary had latterly corresponded with me from a

    little erman town, not more than ninety miles distant4 and, as he had special co!riers at his service, the negotiations advanced so

    rapidly that all was closed before the end of September( And, when once that cons!mmation was attained, I, that previo!sly had

    breathed no syllable of what was stirring, now gave loose to the interesting tidings, and s!ffered them to spread thro!gh the whole compass of the town( It will be easily imagined that s!ch a story, already romantic eno!gh in its first o!tline, wo!ld lose nothing in the telling( An nglishman to begin with, which name of itself, and at all times, is a passport into erman favor, b!t m!ch more since the late memorable wars that b!t for nglishmen wo!ld have drooped into disconnected efforts--ne#t, an nglishman of ran& and

    of the ha!te noblesse--then a soldier covered with brilliant distinctions, and in the most brilliant arm of the service4 yo!ng,

    moreover, and yet a veteran by his e#perience--fresh from the most awf!l battle of this planet since the day of Pharsalia,--radiant

    with the favor of co!rts and of imperial ladies4 finally 6which alone wo!ld have given him an interest in all female hearts7, an Antino!s of fa!ltless bea!ty, a recian stat!e, as it were, into which the breath of life had been breathed by some modern Pygmalion4--s!ch a pomp of gifts and endowments settling !pon one man2s head, sho!ld not have re"!ired for its effect the v!lgar

    cons!mmation 6and yet to many it *AS the cons!mmation and crest of  the whole7 that he was rep!ted to be rich beyond the dreams of 

    romance or the necessities of a fairy tale( /nparalleled was the impression made !pon o!r stagnant society4 every tong!e was b!sy in

    disc!ssing the marvelo!s yo!ng nglishman from morning to night4 every female fancy was b!sy in depicting the personal appearance of  this gay apparition(

    .n his arrival at my ho!se, I became sensible of a tr!th which I had observed some years before( 0he commonplace ma#im is, that it is dangero!s to raise e#pectations too high( 0his, which is th!s generally e#pressed, and witho!t limitation, is tr!e only

    conditionally4 it is tr!e then and there only where there is b!t little merit to s!stain and :!stify the e#pectation( 3!t in any

    case where the merit is transcendent of its &ind, it is always!sef!l to rac& the e#pectation !p to the highest point( In anything which parta&es of the infinite, the most !nlimited e#pectations will find ample room for gratification4 while it is certain that ordinary observers, possessing little sensibility, !nless where they have been warned to e#pect, will often fail to see what e#ists in the most conspic!o!s splendor( In this instance it certainly did no harm to the s!b:ect of e#pectation that I had

    been warned to loo& for so m!ch( 0he warning, at any rate, p!t me on the loo&o!t for whatever eminence there might be of grande!r in

    his personal appearance4 while, on the other hand, this e#isted in s!ch e#cess, so far transcending anything I had ever met with in my

    e#perience, that no e#pectation which it is in words to raise co!ld

    have been disappointed(

  • 8/20/2019 Avenger Story 1


    0hese tho!ghts traveled with the rapidity of light thro!gh my brain, as at one glance my eye too& in the s!premacy of bea!ty and power which seemed to have alighted from the clo!ds before me( Power, and the contemplation of power, in any absol!te incarnation of grande!r or e#cess, necessarily have the instantaneo!s effect of  "!elling all pert!rbation( My compos!re was restored in a moment(

    I loo&ed steadily at him( *e both bowed( And, at the moment when he raised his head from that inclination, I ca!ght the glance of 

    his eye4 an eye s!ch as might have been loo&ed for in a face of  s!ch noble lineaments--

      %3lending the nat!re of the star   *ith that of s!mmer s&ies4%

    and, therefore, meant by nat!re for the residence and organ of  serene and gentle emotions4 b!t it s!rprised, and at the same time

    filled me more almost with consternation than with pity, to observe that in those eyes a light of sadness had settled more profo!nd

    than seemed possible for yo!th, or almost commens!rate to a h!man sorrow4 a sadness that might have become a ;ewish prophet, when

    laden with inspirations of woe(

    0wo months had now passed away since the arrival of Mr( *yndham( )e had been !niversally introd!ced to the s!perior society of the place4 and, as I need hardly say, !niversally received with favor and distinction( In reality, his wealth and importance, his

    military honors, and the dignity of his character, as e#pressed in his manners and deportment, were too eminent to allow of his being

    treated with less than the highest attention in any society whatever( 3!t the effect of these vario!s advantages, enforced and

    recommended as they were by a personal bea!ty so rare, was somewhat too potent for the comfort and self-possession of ordinary people4 and really e#ceeded in a painf!l degree the standard of pretensions !nder which s!ch people co!ld feel themselves at their ease( )e was not nat!rally of a reserved t!rn4 far from it( )is disposition had been open, fran&, and confiding, originally4 and his roving, advent!ro!s life, of which considerably more than one half had been passed in camps, had comm!nicated to his manners a more than

    military fran&ness( 3!t the profo!nd melancholy which possessed him, from whatever ca!se it arose, necessarily chilled the native

    freedom of his demeanor, !nless when it was revived by strength of friendship or of love( 0he effect was aw&ward and embarrassing to all parties( very voice pa!sed or faltered when he entered a room--dead silence ens!ed--not an eye b!t was directed !pon him, or else, s!n& in timidity, settled !pon the floor4 and yo!ng ladies serio!sly lost the power, for