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Caroline would, for a moment, accept a husband who was the professed admirer of another, and that other an actress ?- Never, never. I know that I have outraged every principle of honour and justice-I have sacrificed myself on the altar of passion and will not flinch, though the fire scorch my very vitals.” He was silent for a few moments.
“Frank, these heroic effusions are lost on a matter-of-fact fellow like myself; just view the thing coolly if you can. You know you have only to write a note to Lady Belvoir, stating the circumstances, (in what way you know best,) of your being engaged to another, and the consequence will be, a fit of hysterics, and a formal relinquishment of all claim on her part, nor I think need you fear any thing from Lord Belvoir but a horsewhipping."
“ And do you really think, Harry, I could sit down to write such a note ? Impossible—impossible—not for worlds."
“Well, but for Fanny Melton."
“Why, you're pretty right, my stock of consolations is but small, and so—God bless me, (pulling out his watch in a violent hurry,) so seems my memory. Why, my dear fellow, I ought to have been at the Horse Guards by this time. Good bye-good bye ; read “ Watts on the Mind,” dare say you'll find something there for the “mind diseased;” or “Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy," and just scan “ The Complete Letter Writer " through for a model till I return-adieu."
As soon as the door closed Farley threw himself on the sofa in a state of the deepest dejection. Remorse for his conduct towards Lady Belvoir, who he knew loved him too fondly, and a half repentance for his wild engagement with Miss Melton, so overpowered him, that he felt as though he could have wept for sheer misery. As it was, he sat gnawing his lips until he was able, by the arrival of his chocolate, to substitute some of the slips of toast for them. During breakfast two notes were brought to him, which eventually determined his conduct for the day. The first ran thus :
“ MY DEAR MR. Farley; “ The happy events of last night caused me altogether to forget that I shall be at leisure the whole of this evening, as I do not go to Drury Lane to-night. You must forgive my not being sufficiently initiated yet, to know whether I am acting à-la-mode to send you an invitation, but I cannot help saying the truth, that I shall be most happy to see you to tea.
“ Yours ever, affectionately,
“ FANNY Melton."
The tide of emotion and affection which this epistle excited, burst through all the sluicegates of prudence, reflection, and repentance, but was nevertheless much checked in its progress by the other.
“ DEAR FRANK; “I am positively quite out of humour with you. I think you must have quarrelled with me, at least, every one tells me so, though I do not precisely recollect the circumstance. I will really never pardon you if you do not produce yourself to-day. I have a new pony to show you-a present from papa-most beautiful-you must come. Breakfast will not be over till eleven, and I shall expect you before that time.
“ Yours affectionately,
“ CAROLINE Belvoir." “I will attend both," said he, as he folded them up and threw them on one side—not until, however, he had casually remarked that the seal on Miss Melton's was the same he recollected having seen in the possession of one Major Delisp, an unbounded puppy, and dangler on to theatres, &c., but gave it not another thought. He was soon on. his way to Lord Belvoir's, with a heavy heart and an aching head. His footsteps flagged more and more as he approached the door, and he remained outside some minutes ere he could summon courage to knock. However, he at length entered the breakfast-room. ,
“ Oh, you provoking creature,” exclaimed Lady Belvoir, starting up, “I don't think I ought to excuse your shameful desertion--but you are pale—you have not been ill ?" said she, affectionately, as she extended her hand.
“ Are you unwell, Frank ?" asked the earl from his newspaper. is
“ Thank you, merely a slight head-ache,” answered Farley; and now, for some time, he had to listen to the wild gay chatter of Lady Belvoir, to admire the same brilliancy of intellect, the same piquancy of wit, which had so often charmed him in former days; but her ladyship soon began to perceive that something extraordinary possessed Frank, and her tone of gaiety became gradually lowered and re.. strained; and the strange manner in which he avoided meeting her eye, was a painful contrast to the eager, ardent gaze beneath which her own eyelids used to fall: and how much may any one, especially woman, gather from the eye ?
“ Well, the breakfast was removed, and the earl departed to his library, and Frank and lady Caroline remained, talking common-place, and sometimes wholly silent; both felt an unusual degree of awkward restraint, the one from conscious guilt, the other from undefined apprehension.
“Well, and why did you not come to Lady Darrington's last night ?”
*1_1_was at Drury Lane."
“ At Drury Lane ?” repeated her ladyship, as though endeavouring to recall some recollection. “Well, I am sure, ladies should not, (if they take my advice,) allow their husbands to go to theatres ; and if ever I should be so foolish as to-to-think of Frank Farley as my - ":
*** Caroline," said Frank, rapidly turning round, and looking her full in the face, “it may never be."
Had Lady Caroline been suddenly transformed into a marble statue, she could not have been more pale and motionless, for the first few seconds after this short announcement. The tone and manner in which it was conveyed, could leave not a shadow of a doubt. The man to whom, in the generosity of her heart, she had given her very soul, was returning her an unrequited and an unvalued gift. Suddenly she started up, and placing her small white hand on an arm whose very tendons quivered beneath their tiny grasp, " Frank Farley," said she, with the fearful calmness of intense agony, “was the idle tale I heard true, then ? Am I rejected—cast off--and forhow can I name her? Frank, you do not answer; one word only, for God's sake-if it be only to kill me! Frank! Frank! answer me only this one question. Do you love another ?"
« Caroline, I can never forgive myself. I have wronged you beyond the power of thought,” groaned forth the young man, as he disengaged his arm, and buried his face in his hands.
Lady Caroline's eagerness, her energy was gone, and calm she remained. She did not shriek, or faint, but the arrow had pierced deep into the heart. She simply said, “May I request you to remain a few moments ?" and left the room. A minute after she re-entered with a packet; she was, if possible, paler than when she left the room—the transparent snowy whiteness of her features was slightly tinged with a livid hue.
* Mr. Farley,” said she, drawing herself up to her full height, and speaking with bitter distinctness, “ these are all that I ever received from you—the many letters—the bracelets—the miniature-take them, sir; from this moment all communication ceases between us”
her voice faltered slightly—“for ever!" «Caroline-hear one word " 26 Not one, sir-I have heard too much I wish you farewell ;" and she rang the bell. The bitter cold look of the lady sealed Frank's mouth-it was a look that none could have ventured to misunderstand. He left the house.
Wretched and slow were the hours he endeavoured to wile away till seven. He began to rally, and became more cheerful as the hour of his engagement approached, and the picture of the blushing happy actress erased, to a certain extent, that of the high-souled, agonized, and injured being he had left.
Seven o'clock beheld him quickening his pace to the door of Miss Melton's house. His hasty knock soon brought the domestic-he was just pushing in, when he was arrested by, “Beg pardon, sir, whom did you wish to see?”
* Why, Miss Melton, to be sure."
“Lor bless ye, sir; no, she went along with Major Delisp, of the 10th Dragoons."
“ With whom? Woman-fiend !" shouted Frank. - " Please, sir, don't scream so; perhaps you'd better see Miss Melton as remains, the aunt, sir--poor soul, she takes on so. That Major Delisp, sir, I never liked him—lor, if he aint gone !” added she, as Frank rushed from the door like a madman. “Dear me, sure he's a little intoxicated-only to see how he staggers about;" and the abigail shut the door, as Frank sunk unobserved on a step, in the utter agony of self-accusing wretchedness.
The next morning Lord Belvoir and his daughter again sat at their breakfast-table, but in a different mood to what had influenced their minds on the previous day. Lady Caroline had informed her father of Frank's rejection; the earl had been wounded to the quick-he dearly loved his child, and felt honourably indignant at the insult offered to her. At her earnest request, however, he had forborne to mention it further, to herself or any one else. Lady Belvoir was still pale, but calm and peaceful, and in silence the meal was being despatched, when Captain Stewart was announced. He entered the room hurriedly, and with a vain attempt to appear calm, glanced at Lady Belvoir, and then “requested a word alone with his lordship, immediately."
“ You are not come to plead for your worthless friend, I hope ?" said the earl, sternly.
* Alas! no, my lord; but I wish to speak with your lordship immediately.”
“ Captain Stewart,” interrupted Lady Belvoir, “you have bad news, let us hear the worst at once-I am prepared," but her lip quivered with anxiety.
“ Then, Lady Belvoir, my poor friend will never need one to plead for him more.
“Is it even so ? then am I indeed bereft," sobbed her ladyship, for the woman remained unsubdued, and the smothered, though unchanged affections of her soul, burst out in fuller force than ever. She wept abundantly. The earl was affected-for Frank had been an universal favourite.
“What was the immediate cause of his death, captain ?"
The captain shrugged his shoulders with a shudder of horror-he thought unobserved by Lady Belvoir ; but she had seen him, and she half raised herself from the sofa on which she had sank.
“ He did not wilfully give up the life which only God may take !"
“ It is too true, Lady Belvoir : that worthless woman, for whom he abandoned every thing, left town yesterday morning, the mistress of another man. Poor Frank ascertained the fact late last night. I saw him an hour afterwards, as he stood on the steps of his own houseI hope never to see again such a countenance as his then was—utterly despairing. The last words he said to me were, Harry, if I had listened to principle this would have been avoided, and I might have been happy—'tis too late now. This morning, before any one was up, the house was alarmed by the report of a pistol-he had blown out his brains—but, good heavens! Lady Belvoir has fainted."
“My child, my child !” exclaimed the earl, as he leant over her lifeless form, and supported her head.
"Father !" she uttered almost inaudibly:—but let us draw the veil over this sad picture of domestic misery, and thus refrain from blazoning forth the dreadful results that too frequently ensue from a misplaced affection, which, like a sweet flower, pure in itself, withers and dies, because the soil on which it is planted is nothing but rottenness.
THE EXPIATION; OR, ARDENT TROUHTON, THE
BY THE SUB-EDITOR.
The north-easterly wind had set in with a malicious perseverance, that could be likened to nothing more aptly than the oration of a scolding termagant, gathering strength by the mere exercise of her capabilities of blustering. It blew all the livelong day: some sails were taken in, and others blown out of the boltropes, and, when night came on, we supposed that we should have a lull, upon the strength of which supposition the master took an extra glass and turned in early, and thus between stupidity and rum, found that lull in his cot, that was not to be found, either on deck, or in the heavens, or on the face of the waters.
The brig, as far as such a tub could be said to be trimmed at all, was in good trim. The lightness of her cargo was well rectified by the quantity of the ballast, and, so far, she had behaved well. I was very sick. If I repaired to the deck, I could not keep my footing, and below, the stench and the close air were nearly insupportable. These certainly are common-place miseries; but they were, from my previous habits, my punctilious cleanliness, and the delicate nurture of my previous life, actual agonies. About eight in the evening, my torments below became unendurable ; for, in addition to the nauseous effluvia of the confined cabin, and the horrible creaking of the ship's timbers, I had to be irritated with the regular, loud, and stertorous snore of the brutalized Master Tomkins, who was sleeping in a sort of cupboard immediately adjoining the cabin, of which I was so miserable a tenant. To the sleepless, and those labouring under morbid nervous affections, I have understood the tick, tick, ticking of the death-watch, is a sensation that may be likened to the breaking of the wearied spirit slowly on the wheel; but which compared with the brutal and unintermitting grunting of my tormentor, must have really appeared music. Almost, for the first time in my life, my irritability was excited-a strange feeling of a want and a wish to destroy came over me. I contemplated, first with horror, and then with a grim satisfaction, the diabolical pleasure that the braining of the wretch would give me. I shuddered at my own thought, yet I cherished it, in spite of myself. I wondered at my own depravity-I quivered with agitation at this sudden insight into my own heart-wrathfully, and with shame, did I confess that I was a son of Adam and a brother of Cain. « Oh!" I exclaimed, as I tossed upon my restless bed, “ if this panting to destroy is thus strong upon you, Ardent Troughton, from provocation so slight, from an impulse so apparently causeless, what is the guarantee against the murderous hand, when injury tramples upon, insult, mocks you? There is a black coal smouldering with an unholy fire in your heart, quench it, and at once, or by it you will be consumed.”
" Continued from vol. xv. page 443.