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The Dream of the Affianced.


domestics at Southland House may be well con- of its former scorn at my pitiful subterfuge, as ceived, when I drove up to the door and in- she was doubtless disposed to consider it. I reformed them that circumstances had happened lated the room that I had seen, and the manner which prevented my marriage with Miss Dela- in which it was furnished. My account did not mere from taking place that day—that I seem to make any impression on her; she doubtshould not remain there more than half-an-hour, less concluded that I had previously been acbut that it was absolutely necessary I should in- quainted with Anna's sitting-room at Southspect a part of the premises. They gazed on land House, and was therefore well able to deme in wonder, but complied with my request of scribe it. When, however, I mentioned her leaving me to myself; and as I knew the situa- own stealthy entrance, the colour departed from tion of Anna's' apartments from having fre- her cheeks; when I alluded to the packet that quently in former times seen her at the window, she had drawn from her bosom, she sank into a I quickly bent my way to them. I passed through chair ; and when I specified the inscription in a a small, neat bed-chamber; a door was on the foreign language, and the fatal word which was other side ; I opened it, and stood within her sit- written beneath it, violent and fearful hysterics ting apartment. Alas! Alas! Walwyn, the books, ensued, and I was obliged to ring for assistance, the drawings, the colour of the walls, every and leave her to the care of her servants. I particular had been fully and exactly shadowed could not stay with her, for I was well conforth in my dream : there stood the sofa on vinced of her guilt.” which Anna had reclined, and there stood the “I do not know that you were entitled to very circular table from which the deadly judge of her guilt,” said Doctor Walwyn, “ by draught had been lifted, administered by Clau- | her hysterics: a sudden and unlooked-for accudine to the innocent and helpless girl! I re- sation might well excite feelings of anger or of entered the chaise, and returned to London, terror in an innocent person. there to find an angry and contemptuous letter “Undoubtedly,” replied D'Arcy; "but Claufrom Mr. Delamere, whose bitter reproaches I dine's emotions were not those of anger or of endured patiently, feeling that I had given but terror. Her countenance expressed at once too great occasion for them. A few days passed : shame at the detection of her guilt, and horror my conduct was blazoned about : I was univer- at the awful manner in which it had been besally blamed: some of my friends passed me in trayed. I resolved, however, to breathe no acthe street without recognition ; some, influenced cusation against her : my regard and respect for either by kindness or curiosity, told me that they the excellent Mr. Delamere made me revolt from would gladly listen to any explanation of my the idea of adding to the grief that he was alconduct, and shook their heads when I declared ready suffering on account of his daughter's that I had none to give : and a few showed their sorrows. He believed her injured and innogood will by stoutly maintaining that my con- cent, and I resolved that from me he should duct could only be the result of hereditary in- never be made acquainted with her guilt. I sanity! This defence, however, fell to the made no efforts to justify myself, or to regain ground; for my ancestors, so far from having my position in society: my time was occupied displayed any symptoms of lunacy, could not principally in reading and reflection, and after even be proved guilty of eccentricity.”

the lapse of a few months, I determined to travel " And what was Claudine doing or suffering through France and Italy to recruit my failing all this time?" asked Dr. Walwyn.

health and depressed spirits. A delightful little " Claudine," replied D'Arcy, was seriously town in Italy tempted me to linger there for a ill for some time, and I began to question few days; and to my unspeakable surprise, I enwhether I were indeed acting right in inflicting a countered Mr. Delamere in one of my long real punishment on a person for an uncertain walks. He passed me coldly and proudly, withoffence. Claudine, however, recovered; and I out recognition; and I immediately made indetermined to seek an interview with her, and to quiries in the vicinity respecting himself and his endeavour to judge of her innocence or guilt by daughter. I heard that they had for some time her demeanour. I ascertained that Mr. Dela- inbabited a beautiful villa at the distance of mere was from home, and knocked at the door. about a mile from my abode, and that Miss The footman who opened it seemed inclined to Delamere was suffering under an illness which close it again before my entrance, but I slipped was expected to terminate fatally. The next a sovereign into his hand, and directed him to morning a note was delivered to me, and though tell Miss Delamere that a gentleman wished to the hand-writing was trembling, agitated, and speak to her on particular business. The man blotted with tears, I easily recognized that of complied with my request, probably anticipating Claudine; the words were as follows :that I was desirous of effecting a reconciliation with his young mistress, and in a moment here : my father has left home for some hours : do

“ Accident has acquainted me with your residence stood in the presence of Claudine. She gazed not refuse to grant me an immediate interview: I on me with such mingled contempt and indig- have an important disclosure to make to you." nation, that I seemed to feel myself a guilty creature before her, and still remained standing. I instantly accompanied the messenger of this She coldly asked me my reason for intruding on note, and was again introduced into Claudine's her. I began by alluding to my dream; and her presence ; but oh! how altered was she in perbeautiful lip curled with all, and more than all son and manner since our last terrible inter


view! Pale, wan, supported by pillows, her , you might the more gradually break to me your beauty, health, and pride seemed all levelled to determination to forsake me!' the dust. She held out her wasted hand to me, “Oh, Claudine !' interrupted I, “how could and said, “You have acted a noble and generous you believe me guilty of such deception?' part, D'Arcy : you have kept from my father * Had you not once betrayed my trust in and the world a secret supernaturally revealed to you?' asked Claudine, with somewhat of her you, and I cannot die in peace without confess- former spirit ; ‘and are you surprised that I being to you the full measure of my guilt. D'Arcy, lieved you capable of deceiving me a second every event in your dream was true.'

time? I do not wish, however, to reproach Although fully prepared to hear this avowal, you ; reproaches are not meet for the guilty to I could not repress a start and groan of horror. bestow.'

'Hear my sad history,' said Claudine, and * About this time Anna was attacked by tremble at the consequences of unbridled pas- violent influenza; the complaint had been presions. The pride which I always felt in my per- valent in the neighbourhood for some time, and sonal and mentalattainments, and my compassion in two cases had terminated fatally:, I cannot for Anna Welford's meek and spiritless character, describe to you the intensity of my wicked wishes had effectually blinded me to the progress of that Anna should add to the number of its vicyour attachment to her; and I should vainly at- tims; for some days she was seriously ill

, but tempt to describe my sensations when I beheld at length she rallied, and the physician proyou kneeling at her feet. Your letter gave me nounced that all her unfavourable symptoms little consolation ; for, although you professed had disappeared, and that a short time would your willingness to relinquish Anna, you still probably restore her to perfect health. He had avowed your preference for her; and I felt con- scarcely left the house when Mrs. Marsden envinced that you had sustained a severe conflict tered; she had met him on the staircase, and between honour and inclination, although the did not scruple to tell me that she was exceedlatter had gained the victory. Still I could not ingly grieved and disappointed at Anna's convaresolve to give you up: life I felt would be lescence. nothing to me without you; and the idea of the "Her death would have settled all difficultriumphant Anna smiling as your chosen bride ties at once,' she said; “D'Arcy would have effectually determined me to agree to the con- mourned for a few weeks, and then returned to tinuance of

engagement. Everything his senses, and learned to value your attractions seemed to conspire on that day to awaken evil and tenderness as he ought to do.' passions in my heart. Mrs. Marsden, a pre- ‘She embraced me as she spoke, with apparent tended friend, who never omitted the oppor- fondness and commiseration; and my heart was tunity of saying a mortifying thing to me, told so melted by the interest she seemed to take in me that she felt it her painful duty to acquaint my trials, that I told her of the letter D'Arcy me with the rumours that were prevalent in the had addressed to me when I had detected him at neighbourhood concerning your admiration of the feet of Anna. She expressed a wish to see Anna Welford. «Send her immediately from it ; I had only read it once, and when I returned your roof,” she said: 'she is not worthy to re- home had deposited it in a drawer that I scarcely main there. She must have practised arts and ever opened, feeling that I could not endure a insinuations of the basest kind before she could re-perusal of it. I yielded, however, to her en, succeed in shaking the constancy of a lover to treaties, and brought it down to her ; she read one so much her superior.'

it aloud, pointedly dwelling on the passages in * I returned home, full of indignation against which you alluded to your love for Anna, and you, and vindictive resentment to Anna, and your irrepressible delight when you discovered undefined plans of revenge floated through my the likeness of yourself sketched by her hand. imagination. I would not send Anna away; I “Oh, Claudine !' she said, as she returned did not wish to confirm the scandalous reports the letter, how can people call you proud ? I of my neighbours, and I also dreaded that you would have welcomed the extreme of poverty might visit her, unchecked by my watchful eye : and degradation rather than have received the but none can tell the misery I endured in the coldly and unwillingly renewed addresses of a daily association with her whom I so feared and man who so openly and unreservedly avowed his hated. “Your lover's conduct has become ex-preference for another.' tremely guarded,' said Mrs. Marsden; but 'She left me at length, having inflamed all the language of the eyes is very eloquent, the worst passions of my nature by her insidious and Anna has no cause, I am persuaded, to observations, and I hastened to my room to apprehend a diminution of her power over his return the letter to my drawer. A miscellaneous heart.'

collection of articles was in that rarely-opened * Thus mortified and exasperated, I could drawer; antique trinkets, souvenirs from schoolnot help feeling relieved at your visit to Scot- friends, and letters which had been addressed to land. Iwas no longer the wretched witness of me in childhood, and were therefore preserved Anna’s soft, dove-like eyes smiling beneath the with a veneration which we feel for them at that tender glance of yours.' A new fear, however, age, and which secures them from subsequent now haunted me ? I imagined that you were se- destruction. While in the act of shutting the cretly corresponding with Anna, and that you drawer, a small packet caught my eye, and the purposely prolonged u stay in Scotland that remembrance suddenly occurred to me of the

The Dream of the Affianced.

261 circumstances under which it had been given to , ade, and filled the glass with it, and stood by me a year ago, and which had almost faded from her side just as she was thoroughly aroused my mind. A lady and gentleinan had dined from sleep, presenting her with the pernicious with us, who brought with them a celebrated draught. * Thank you, Claudine,' she said as Italian physician, then staying on a visit to she drank it ; “how kind it is of you to visit me them. In the evening he heard me speaking to in my sickness!' And she spoke to me of her the lady whom he had accompanied, relative to flowers, her songs, and her drawings, little one of my poor pensioners, who was afflicted thinking that she should never again partake in with a painful malady.

their simple pleasures. I do not know by “I am glad to tell you,' he said, “that I can what power I commanded myself to answer offer you a remedy which seldom fails to cure her observations without embarrassment or the coinplaint to which you allude; it is in the trepidation. I suppose the dread of possible form of a powder, and is of the most essential detection inspired me with this ability; but use when administered in minute grains; it is for half an hour did I sit by the sofa of the necessary, however, to warn you, that in larger gentle and lovely creature whose thread of life quantities it is a destructive poison, and one had been already severed by my relentless hand, which is as safe as it is subtle, for the pain listening to her remarks, and accepting her caused by it is very slight, indeed less than is thanks for my kindness. Morning visitors were usually suffered in cases of natural death ; and then announced to me, and I obeyed the sumit causes no change of countenance which would mons. Oh! think how dreadful to remain above be likely to excite suspicion. I would not,' he an hour hearing idle frivolous tattle, obliged to continued with a smile, 'trust it to everybody, seem interested in doleful accounts of blighted but to you, Miss Delamere, I can safely confide fruit-trees, a lame pony, a broken porcelain it; you are so well qualified to deal death-blows jar, and a disrespectful lady's maid, and comby your eyes, that you have no occasion to seek pelled to assume a look of commiseration, and for the chemist's magic art' to assist you ! to utter expressions of condolence, while all the

A merry laugh echoed from the circle around, time my heart was racked with the united agonies in which I joined. Alas! how vain, how presump- of fear and guilt. At last they departed, and my tuous was the observation! Who can say that father came in; and after asking if Anna contihigh station in the world, polish of manner, or nued to improve, and listening to my reply in refinement of mind, can guard their possessors the affirmative, he began to relate to me a merry from the inclination to sin? The hour of tempta- story which he had just read in a new publication will come alike to all, and none may hope tion, pausing at intervals to laugh, and wonderto resist it but those who are guarded by reli- ing that I did not seem to catch the point of the gious principle, and who seek refuge from the jest. A servant just then entered hastilysuggestions of the evil one in fervent and hum- Miss Welford has become suddenly worse,' ble prayer. The next morning the Italian phy- she said. My father ran into the room, fol. sician called upon me, and brought the promised lowed by myself. Anna was pale and suffering, drug.

her words were scarcely articulate. “I am dying, “ The properties of it,' he said, ' are already Claudine,' she faintly uttered, forgive me for described in the envelope ; but as they are writ- the wrong I have done you. Alas! alas ! how ten in Italian, and it is well to be prudent, I will well might I have reciprocated her entreaty, take care that all mistakes shall be prevented.' Dr. Maddox was instantly sent for, but she had • He then dipped a pen in the standish, and breathed her last before his arrival

, and my wrote in large letters the word ‘Poison' on the frantic shrieks over her lifeless body were impaper. I thanked him for his attention, but I puted by him and by my father to the warmth of never made use of the powder; I was rather my feelings and the intensity of

my attachment afraid of the responsibility I might incur; and to her. No suspicion was excited by the sudas my poor pensioner began to recover about denness of her death; it happened by a singular that time, I thought nothing more of the packet coincidence, that a few hours afterwards, the till it met my eye on the present occasion. Oh! lovely young wife of a neighbouring baronet, what emotions did it cause in my mind; it ap- who had appeared to be recovering from the peared to me like a magic talisman placed before same complaint, was carried off by a severe and me, as the means of freeing myself from my de- unexpected relapse. Dr. Maddox, when he told tested rival. I put it within my bosom, and the tale among his patients, of the sad and unrepaired with soft steps to Anna's sitting-room. looked-for death of Lady Melvin, was accusShe was sleeping; I walked to her side ; her tomed to add, “And poor Miss Welford died regular breathing, and the wild-rose tint of her six hours before, under precisely similar circumcomplexion, told me that health was rapidly stances;' and his auditors felt the lesser calareturning to her. It shall never return,' Í mity merged in the greater, gave all their pity to thought, as I shook the powder into a glass, the bereaved husband and motherless infants of and cast the envelope into the fire. One mo- Lady Melvin, and considered that they showed ment I paused-my better angel suggested to great sensibility in adding, ' Poor Anna Welme how fearful was the crime that I was me- ford, she was a sweet girl; but after all, there is ditating. Anna moved — the word • D'Arcy'nobody to grieve for her.' faintly escaped her lips; this steeled my waver- Nobody to grieve for her! The fondest ing resolution. I took a crystal flask of lemon- 1 mother bewailing the loss of her first-born, the

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most fervent lover weeping over the grave of his evil deeds, and who in his own good time thought betrothed bride, the most devoted wife deprived fit to make them manifest. Had I reverenced by the stroke of death of the husband of her that supreme God as I ought, had I studied his affections— feel an anguish slight, faint, and sacred word, and trodden in his holy ways, I poor compared with mine, when I reflected that should not have felt tempted to the commission

was the destroyer of my dear and early friend. of that crime which has rendered me the wretch Could the sacrifice of my lover or of my life I now am; my days are numbered, and draw have restored Anna to existence, I would not to a close. Oh! D'Arcy, pity me, and pray for have hesitated a moment to forego them; my me.' days were a burden to me; the very air 1 “ Earnestly and anxiously did I attempt to breathed seemed hateful to me; the people who lead Claudine to trust in the intercession of that addressed me appeared as though they were blessed Redeemer who died to save sinners even mocking and deriding me. I shrank from the vile and guilty as herself; but my words aptrials destined for me in this world; I shrank peared to have no effect on her.' Shrinking, still more fearfully from the punishment in store and naturally shrinking, from the justice of God, for me in the world to come. The violence of she felt unable to cling to his mercy, and she my anguish had somewhat abated before your seemed to think of the merits of her Saviour as arrival, and your professions of affection soothed offering a gracious atonement for the common and gratified my feelings. Still, however, I felt errors and failings of mortality, but as never that there was no peace for me in Southland intended to cancel a crime of such fearful mag, House, and I eagerly embraced my father's pro- nitude as her own. I left her in a frame of posal of a tour through Wales. My spirits be- mind melancholy to reflect upon, and in two came in a great measure calmed by that delight days I quitted the neighbourhood, for the serful journey, and I presumptuously believed that vants of Mr. Delamere had not preserved the God would pardon my wickedness, and suffer secresy which Claudine had enjoined upon them it to prosper. When your letter was delivered respecting my visit to her; it was known and to my father early on the morning of the day commented upon, and I became the object of appointed for our marriage, I was agonized with such general attention and observation, that I mortification and anger; but I felt not the was glad to depart to another part of the country. slightest suspicion of the discovery of my guilty In a few weeks I read of the death of Claudine secret; nothing, I argued, could possibly have Delamere ; her remains were borne to England, happened in the few dark, silent, solitary hours and a splendid monument erected to her meof night, to change your opinion of me, and I mory, celebrating her virtues and excellencies in therefore imputed your conduct to the love which an eloquent inscription. you felt even in death for Anna ; and never was I did not return to England for some years, my conscience so quiet, and my remorse so light, and continued even then to lead a life of great as when I reflected that I had succeeded in de- privacy and retirement. I was not disposed to priving you of her who was dearer to you than throw myself upon the mercy of society as a honour itself, and that I could never be called humble candidate for re-admission into its upon to undergo the humiliation of beholding charmed circle; books were my companions the false lover, who had deserted me almost at and friends; and till the events of the last few the foot of the altar, rewarded for his treachery months happily introduced me to your knowby the hand of his beloved Anna. Grief and ledge, I was completely bereft of the luxury wounded pride, however, occasioned me a severe arising from free and unreserved communication illness; and when I recovered, and you found with a kindred mind. means to enter into my presence, I actually “About two years ago, Mr. Delamere died, forgot my own guilt, which was only known to and his feelings towards me were unchanged to God, in my horror of yours, which was the sub- the last. He was a worthy and kind-hearted ject of discussion and censure to man. I felt

man; and although enthusiastic love for his (ittle moved or troubled by your recital of the daughter was his leading characteristic, he had early scenes of your dream; but when you men- a general good will and affection for all his fellowtioned the packet and its inscription, oh! what creatures. Twice had Mr. Delamere been sea dreadful and startling conviction of the won- verely injured by private friends ; one of them derful dealings of Providence burst upon my | had defrauded him of a large sum of money shuddering ear and sickening heart! I remem- which he had entrusted in his hands, and the ber nothing more till I found myself in my own other had prejudiced the mind of a wealthy relaroom, surrounded by assiduous attendants, who tive against him by artful and slanderous insiwhispered to each other their commiseration for nuations, till the large legacy which had always my undeserved sorrows. Alas! alas ! how been destined for Delamere fell to the share of forcibly did I feel the overwhelming power of his invidious calumniator. When the last hours the Omnipotent to discover secret sin. I had of this excellent man approached, he said to a administered a deadly draught to my early friend friend, Carry to Creswell and Phillipson the in the solitude of her quiet chamber; she had full assurance of my forgiveness for the injuries died in the belief of my kindness and attachment they have done me, and tell them, that if it will to her; all around me deemed that I had truly gratify them to receive this assurance in person, loved her in life, and deeply lamented her in i am perfectly willing to accept a visit from death ; but there was One, whose eye was on my either or both of them.'

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The Dream of the Affianced.

263 “I will gladly convey this message,' said him would be the probable means of inflicting his friend; but another person has deeply on them.' injured you; do you forgive D'Arcy for the “ These observations were repeated to me by wrong he has done

an officious friend, or rather acquaintance, who "I trust I forgive him,' replied Mr. Dela- | stopped me in the street to lament that Mr. mere, and I am sure I would not injure him ; Delamere was so obstinately opposed to a reconbut I must decline sending any message to him, ciliation with me, and they answered the puror listening to any proposal for an interview pose of their narrator-they severely wounded with him. There were palliating circumstances and grieved me; still, however, I was thankful in the injuries done to me by the two other men to reflect that the good man had died in ignoto whom I have alluded. Creswell was driven rance of the crime of his daughter; and his reby want to dishonesty, and thought, although marks on my baseness and cruelty in causelessly unadvisedly and erroneously, that he was not deserting her, did not affect me so intensely as acting very culpably in taking a portion of my they would have done had I felt conscious of wealth to relieve his own poverty. The conduct deserving them.”. of Phillipson was more blameable ; he stooped " Innocence, indeed,” said Dr. Walwyn, to meanness and to subterfuge, that he might warmly pressing the hand of his friend, “is the deprive me of a legacy which by the rights of best and surest balm for the sting of accusation, kindred ought to have been mine, and which I and I honour and esteem you for thus resolutely had never done anything to forfeit; but Phillip- keeping sacred the secret of Claudine; but, son had been brought up by a needy, reckless, D'Arcy, believe me, you over-rate the scruples and unprincipled father; he had never been of society; you certainly are blamed, and thereplaced in the path of right as a child, therefore fore not sought by it; but throw open your hosit is not surprising that in his maturer days he pitable home to visitors, delight them with the should continue to be a wanderer from it. "How stores of your intelligent mind, and the charm different was the case of D'Arcy; his father was of your polished manners, and you will be the soul of honour, and had educated him in spoken of as scores of persons are spoken of the strictest principles of conscientious recti- against whom far worse rumours have been circutude: his wish that he should unite himself to lated; the world will say that you were under a my beloved girl was expressed in a recommen- cloud at one period of your life, but that there are dation, not a command; and D'Arcy came to always two sides to a story, and that very likely my house a free agent, and might have honour- you were not half so culpable as you were repreably and justly declined the hand of Claudine, sented to be; that at all events you are now a had she not happened to meet his approbation. most excellent and engaging person, and that if What was his mode of proceeding on this plain you ever did anything wrong, there is no doubt and easy road? he won the affections of my that you are extremely sorry for it, and intend daughter by the warmest protestations of regard; to lead an exemplary life for the future.” he next tampered with the feelings of the poor “ I do not question,” replied D'Arcy, “ that unprotected" Anna Welford; the circumstance I might easily re-enter society on the doubtful was accidentally made known to Claudine, and footing you describe, but I have no inclination in pity for his pretended penitence, she gene- to do so. A person whose life has been signalrously pardoned him, and kept his conduct a ized by such painful events as mine, and who secret from me; nor should I ever have been has been the subject of so awful and preternaaware of it, had it not been disclosed to me after tural a warning, must of necessity feel his mind Claudine's death, by my neighbour, Mrs. Mars and ideas solemnized by the recollection, and he den. The noble disinterestedness of Claudine, recoils from the light, trifling conversation of the in bewailing so deeply the loss of a rival, might frivolous and worldly throng. I almost doubted have softened any heart capable of valuing what for a time, Walwyn, whether your society were was amiable and excellent; but how was she re- not too great a luxury to allow myself, and whewarded for her exemplary conduct? by being ther duty did not demand that I should devote deserted on the day appointed for her marriage, the residue of my days to solitude and repentwithout the shadow of an excuse, or even an ance.' attempt to cast blame upon her; left to droop, “ Repentance !" exclaimed

Dr. Walwyn; to mourn, alas ! to die. You tell me that D'Arcy surely, D'Arcy, you forget yourself: how could is excluded from society. I am glad to hear it; you do otherwise than refuse to ratify your enI speak advisedly, not with impetuous and selfish gagement with Claudine, after the solemn warnirritation, but I am glad to know that society is ing you had received ? And surely your subseable and willing to guard its own sacred rights; quent conduct, in so honourably guarding the and that it will not be in D'Arcy's power again secret of her guilt, was most exemplary and to win the inestimable treasure of the love of a self-denying.” highly-gifted and admirable giri, and to cast it “I allow," replied D'Arcy, with a melancholy from him like a withered flower. Were I to see smile, “ that no blame can attach to me in these and to forgive him, his return to the world respects; but I may echo your words, Walwyn, might be comparatively easy. I will never be and say surely you forget yourself, otherwise the instrument of bringing so fearful a load you could never tell me that I had not cause for of calamity and suffering on my fellow crea- repentance. Long before I had reason to imatures, as familiar intercourse with one like gine that Claudine was capable of injuring any

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