Werewolf Wednesday: Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf by George W. M. Reynolds (1846-7) Part 19

Chapter 50 of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf takes us back to Florence, where the Count of Arestino frets over the whereabouts of his adulterous wife Giulia. The whole scurrilous saga appears to have turned him into a Dalek:

All my life have I been a just—a humane—a merciful man; I will be so no more. The world’s doings are adverse to generosity and fair-dealing. In my old age have I learnt this! Oh! the perfidy of women toward a doting—a confiding—a fond heart, works strange alterations in the heart of the deceived one! I, who but a year—nay, six months ago—would not harm the meanest reptile that crawls, now thirst for vengeance—vengeance,” repeated the old man, in a shrieking, hysterical tone, “upon those who have wronged me! I will exterminate them at one fell swoop—exterminate them all—all!” And his voice rang screechingly and wildly through the lofty room of that splendid mansion.

Well, since the sadistic nuns have been dealt with, the story needed a new villain. Speaking of the sadistic nuns, their former captive Flora is en route to the home of her aunt; having heard footsteps that “excited the keenest alarms within her bosom” she turns to meet her lover Francisco, Count of Riverola. Much romantic gushing ensues, and Francisco contrasts with the vengeful Count of Arestino by pointedly forgiving various people — includign his missing sister Nisida for handing Flora over to the sadistic nuns.

Meanwhile,  Antonio (valet to the Count of Arestino) and his mother Dame Margaretha have been eavesdropping on the entire conversation. They begin plotting…

Back in Turkey, Grand Vizier Ibrahim (frustrated by the lack of time he has to spend with his wife Aischa) gets a visit from a Greek page named Constantine. Not content with a simple message, the page bursts into song:

“Oh, are there not beings condemned from their birth,
To drag, without solace or hope o’er the earth,
The burden of grief and of sorrow?
Doomed wretches who know, while they tremblingly say,
‘The star of my fate appears brighter to-day,’
That it is but a brief and a mocking ray,
To make darkness darker to-morrow.

“And ’tis not to the vile and base alone
That unchanging grief and sorrow are known,
But as oft to the pure and guileless;
And he, from whose fervid and generous lip,
Gush words of the kindest fellowship,
Of the same pure fountain may not sip
In return, but it is sad and smileless!

…et cetera. This song is enough to place Ibrahim into a state of “profound meditation”. He offers to help Constatnine with any troubles, and the page reveals that his sister has a case of unrequited love. Once Ibrahim agrees to sort out her love-life, he learns the full truth: the girl is Colanthe (introduced in an earlier chapter) and the man she loves is none other than Ibrahim himself.

Ingrahim remains true to his word and Constantine departs, “leaving the grand vizier to feast his voluptuous imagination with delicious thoughts of the beauteous Calanthe.”

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