Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

obeyed and the Doctor came: there was however little ceremony between them. Charlotte had no inducement whatever to disguise her feelings of hatred towards him; whilst he, fully invested with power, felt very little necessity for dissembling, and therefore refused most positively to give his consent to her marriage with Mr. Darnley; assigning as a reason, that their mutual extravagance would wantonly dissipate that money, which ought to be disposed of in a more useful and benevolent manner. Charlotte readily understood the hint, and agreed to divide the four thousand pounds equally with him; upon condition that he gave his free consent to her marriage with Darnley-and his influence to obtain her father's consent also. This she thought was one point gained towards a discovery of his character, when her father should learn he could thus vilely barter with the property invested in his power, and appropriate it to his own use.

Cantwell, true to his word, used his influence with Sir John in favour of Darnley's pretensions; an ap parent instance of noble minded generosity which endeared him more than ever to the heart of his patron; and more strongly fixed his determination of giving his daughter to him: but when Charlotte informed her father of the bargain, which she had entered into with the Doctor-it somewhat staggered him. Lady Lambert thinking the proper moment for discovery, was now arrived,-informed him his son's accusations were really true; that the unprincipled villain had dared to speak to her of love; and that if he would descend so far from the dignity of his character as to become a listener, she would lay the treachery of Cantwell open to his view at one glance. It was indeed, she observed, a mean and unworthy mode of proceeding; but desperate diseases required desperate remedies and she was painfully compelled to point out the only mode with

in her power to release him from the thraldom of an hypocritical scoundrel.

Sir John was tortured; and he dreaded the conviction which his wife offered to give him. Was Doctor Cantwell indeed a villain? If so, where was he-where was his son-in what a gulf of utter ruin had he involved himself and family? Trembling at the discovery which was about to be made, ashamed at the retrospect of his own weakness, should Lady Lambert's and Charlotte's accusations be really well founded, he suffered himself to be led to his hiding-place; there to await the full disclosure of Cantwell's hypocrisy.

The Doctor readily obeyed the summons of Lady Lambert; who received him most graciously, expressed her sorrow for the uneasiness which the Colonel's violence had caused, and played her part with so much skill, that the Doctor, completely deceived, threw off the mask of sanctity without constraint, and plainly displayed himself to the agonized dupe of his arts, in colours so glaring that to doubt any longer was impossible. Sir John at once rushed upon him; and, resisting all his efforts at vindication, ordered him to quit his house immediately. Cantweli, finding any further attempt at hypocrisy would be fruitless, stood forth at once, a daring "bold faced villain," insolently telling Sir John that he was master there, and ordered him to quit a house which was no longer his, and over which he had not any authority.

[ocr errors]

"True, most true (replied the miserable man), whither shall I fly to hide me from the world !”

Overwhelmed with shame, remorse, and anguish, he was rushing out of the room; when Lady Lambert forcibly detained him; and, assuming a degree: of spirit which he had never before on any occasion witnessed, she declared he should not stir hence, that possession still was theirs, and they would not

quit the house, unless compelled by law. The Doctor, alarmed at her firmness, left the roomloudly calling upon Seyward!

Presently the report of a pistol was heard, and Charlotte terrified, ran to her father, expressing her apprehensions that murder was committed. The alarm was however transient; for Cantwell, Darnley, and Seyward soon made their appearance, and the report of the pistol was accounted for. When the Doctor left the room, he called Seyward to the pavilion in the garden; where, in great perturbation of mind, he told him that a storm was gathered, which he was not prepared to meet;-that his sole dependence was upon his fidelity, and that he must be ready, when called upon, to swear he had seen him pay to Sir John several large sums of money, as value for an estate. Seyward boldly refused to perjure himself--telling him, on the contrary, that he was well satisfied, he had obtained from Sir John several large sums, under pretence of charitable purposes, and which he had secretly converted to his own use. Stung to madness by this defiance of Seyward, he seized him by the throat; but Seyward's temper forsook him at this instant, and forgetting the disparity of their years, he gave him a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]

1

w blow, which levelled him with the earth! Roused to desperation, Cantwell started from the ground, and furiously seized a pistol which hung over the chimney-piece; when Seyward caught his wrist, and in the struggle an explosion took place, which i alarmed the family, but no injury was done to the Ir parties.

T

spa[

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The reign of this artful hypocrite was now nea at an end. The Colonel, who had been as busy o of doors as Charlotte and Lady Lambert within had fortunately obtained some information &gainst the Doctor, of so enormous a nature respecting some daring frauds he had committed, that he returned, with the officers of justice, to apprehend him as a cheat and an impostor.

The Doctor viewed them all with the most sovereign contempt, and proudly ordered them to quit the house. "I am master here (said the hardened wretch), and if I go none shall remain behind, I will lock up the doors of my own house."

Sir John beat his forehead in an agony of despair when Charlotte, clasping him round the neck, and kissing away the unconscious tears, which streamed down his cheek, bade him "be of comfort, that his fortune was yet in his own power." She then displayed to his enraptured view the original deed unsigned; and informed him, the parchment in the Doctor's possession, was a copy-but that her brother's name was inserted in place of Cantwell's.

Sir John now fell upon his knees, and offered the tribute of thanks to that almighty disposer of all things, who had been graciously pleased to watch over and preserve him from the snares of a villain; while Cantwell, pale, and trembling with rage, shame and disappointment, breathed the most bitter imprecations upon them all-and then ordered the officers to conduct him where they pleased.

Thus ended the career of this designing hypo

erite. Sir John, grateful for the interference of his children, endeavoured by every future act of kindness, to atone for his former injustice. He bestowed his daughter's hand upon the excellent Darnley, whose exertions, in conjunction with Sir John and Colonel Lambert, succeeded in rescuing the estimable Charles Seyward from the gripe of his atrocious guardian, and restoring him to the full possession of his mother's property.

Deceit! thy reign is short-Hypocrisy
However gaily dress'd in specious garb,
In witching eloquence, or winning smiles,
Allures but for a time-Truth lifts the veil,
She lights her torch, and places it on high,
To spread intelligence to all around.
How shrinks the fawning slave hypocrisy
Then when the specious veil is rent in twain,
Which screen'd the hedious monster from our view!
Beware, ye slaves of vice and infamy,
Beware choose not religion's sacred name,
To sanctify your crimes-your falsehood shield.
Profane not your Creator's boundless power,
Or lest his vengeance fall upon and crush ye.
It is an awful height of human pride,
When we dare robe ourselves in sanctity,
While all is dark impiety within!
This surely is the aggregate of sin,
The last to be forgive: by heaven or man.

« PreviousContinue »