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Lucretia — Volume 04 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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PART THE SECOND.

PROLOGUE TO PART THE SECOND.

The century has advanced. The rush of the deluge has ebbed back; the old
landmarks have reappeared; the dynasties Napoleon willed into life have
crumbled to the dust; the plough has passed over Waterloo; autumn after
autumn the harvests have glittered on that grave of an empire. Through
the immense ocean of universal change we look back on the single track
which our frail boat has cut through the waste. As a star shines
impartially over the measureless expanse, though it seems to gild but one
broken line into each eye, so, as our memory gazes on the past, the light
spreads not over all the breadth of the waste where nations have battled
and argosies gone down,--it falls narrow and confined along the single
course we have taken; we lean over the small raft on which we float, and
see the sparkles but reflected from the waves that it divides.

On the terrace at Laughton but one step paces slowly. The bride clings
not now to the bridegroom's arm. Though pale and worn, it is still the
same gentle face; but the blush of woman's love has gone from it
evermore.

Charles Vernon (to call him still by the name in which he is best known
to us) sleeps in the vault of the St. Johns. He had lived longer than he
himself had expected, than his physician had hoped,--lived, cheerful and
happy, amidst quiet pursuits and innocent excitements. Three sons had
blessed his hearth, to mourn over his grave. But the two elder were
delicate and sickly. They did not long survive him, and died within a
few months of each other. The third seemed formed of a different mould
and constitution from his brethren. To him descended the ancient