Vivian Grey, by Benjamin Disraeli

Chapter 6

When Vivian Grey remembered his existence he found himself in bed. The curtains of his couch were closed; but as he stared around him they were softly withdrawn, and a face that recalled everything to his recollection gazed upon him with a look of affectionate anxiety.

“My father!” exclaimed Vivian; but the finger pressed on the parental lip warned him to silence. His father knelt by his side, and then the curtains were again closed.

Six weeks, unconsciously to Vivian, had elapsed since the fatal day, and he was now recovering from the effects of a fever from which his medical attendants had supposed he never could have rallied. And what had been the past? It did indeed seem like a hot and feverish dream. Here was he once more in his own quiet room, watched over by his beloved parents; and had there then ever existed such beings as the Marquess, and Mrs. Lorraine, and Cleveland, or were they only the actors in a vision? “It must be so,” thought Vivian; and he jumped up in his bed and stared wildly around him. “And yet it was a horrid dream! Murder, horrible murder! and so real, so palpable! I muse upon their voices as upon familiar sounds, and I recall all the events, not as the shadowy incidents of sleep, that mysterious existence in which the experience of a century seems caught in the breathing of a second, but as the natural and material consequences of time and stirring life. O, no! it is too true!” shrieked the wretched sufferer, as his eye glanced upon a despatch-box which was on the table, and which had been given to him by Lord Carabas; “It is true! it is true! Murder! murder!” He foamed at the mouth, and sank exhausted on his pillow.

But the human mind can master many sorrows, and, after a desperate relapse and another miraculous rally, Vivian Grey rose from his bed.

“My father, I fear that I shall live!”

“Hope, rather, my beloved.”

“Oh! why should I hope?” and the sufferer’s head sank upon his breast.

“Do not give way, my son; all will yet be well, and we shall all yet be happy,” said the father, with streaming eyes.

“Happy! oh, not in this world, my father!”

“Vivian, my dearest, your mother visited you this morning, but you were asleep. She was quite happy to find you slumbering so calmly.”

“And yet my dreams were not the dreams of joy. O, my mother! you were wont to smile upon me; alas! you smiled upon your sorrow.”

“Vivian, my beloved! you must indeed restrain your feelings. At your age life cannot be the lost game you think it. A little repose, and I shall yet see my boy the honour to society which he deserves to be.”

“Alas! my father, you know not what I feel. The springiness of my mind has gone. O, man, what a vain fool thou art! Nature has been too bountiful to thee. She has given thee the best of friends, and thou valuest not the gift of exceeding price until the griefs are past even friendship’s cure. O, my father! why did I leave thee?” and he seized Mr. Grey’s hand with convulsive grasp.

Time flew on, even in this house of sorrow. “My boy,” said Mr. Grey to his son one day, “your mother and I have been consulting together about you; and we think, now that you have somewhat recovered your strength, it may be well for you to leave England for a short time. The novelty of travel will relieve your mind without too much exciting it; and if you can manage by the autumn to settle down anywhere within a thousand miles of England, why we will come and join you, and you know that will be very pleasant. What say you to this little plan?”

In a few weeks after this proposition had been made Vivian Grey was in Germany. He wandered for some months in that beautiful land of rivers, among which flows the Rhine, matchless in its loveliness; and at length the pilgrim shook the dust off his feet at Heidelberg, in which city Vivian proposed taking up his residence. It is, in truth, a place of surpassing loveliness, where all the romantic wildness of German scenery is blended with the soft beauty of the Italian. An immense plain, which, in its extent and luxuriance, reminds you of the fertile tracts of Lombardy, is bordered on one side by the Bergstrasse Mountains, and on the other by the range of the Vosges. Situate on the river Neckar, in a ravine of the Bergstrasse, amid mountains covered with vines, is Heidelberg; its ruined castle backing the city, and still frowning from one of the most commanding heights. In the middle of the broad plain may be distinguished the shining spires of Mannheim, Worms, and Frankenthal; and pouring its rich stream through this luxuriant land, the beautiful and abounding Rhine receives the tribute of the Neckar. The range of the Vosges forms the extreme distance.

To the little world of the little city of which he was now an habitant Vivian Grey did not appear a broken-hearted man. He lived neither as a recluse nor a misanthrope. He became extremely addicted to field sports, especially to hunting the wild boar; for he feared nothing so much as thought, and dreaded nothing so much as the solitude of his own chamber. He was an early riser to escape from hideous dreams; and at break of dawn he wandered among the wild passes of the Bergstrasse; or, climbing a lofty ridge, was a watcher for the rising sun; and in the evening he sailed upon the star-lit Neckar.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53