|Chapter Number||The Last Chapter|
|Chapter Title||The Destroyer|
|Newspaper Title||The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842)|
|Trove Title||Passages from the Diary of a late Physician|
Passages from the Diary of a late
Physician.-The last Chapter..
(From tílackuood's Magazine, .dugint, 1837.)
( Continued from our last.)
Almost immediately upon Colonel St. Helen's arrival in India, he was hurried into aelion; and-in lillie more than a year after his departure from England,
the Gazette made most honorable mention of his name, as connected with the very important action in the Mahratta war. I could easily contrive, I thought, to call to-day upon Mrs. St. Helen, and so be, perhaps, the first to shew her the Ga- zette; and I made my arrangements accordingly. Putting the important do- cument in my pocket, I drove in the direction of Densleigh, having a patient in the neighbourhood. I left my car- riage in the road, and walked up the avenue to the house. , I trode so noise- lessly upon the " soft smooth-shaven green," that my approach was not per- ceived by the occupants of the room in which we had lunched on the occasion already mentioned. They wero Mrs. St. Helen and her little son Arthur. The
latter was evidently acting the soldier, having a feather stuck in his cap, and a broad red, ( ribbon round his waist, to which was at/ached a sword ; and, in order' to complete his resemblance to the figuro of an officer, he had a drum fas- tened in front of him, to the harmonious sound of which he was marching fierely round the room; while his mother-her beautiful countenance fully and fondly towards him-was playing upon the piano, " See tho conquering hero comes!" She perceived mc approach, and started for a moment ; but hastily motioning mo not to appear and disturb what was going on, I stepped aside.
" And what does brave papa do, Ar- thur?" said she, ceasing to play. He stopped, dropped his drum sticks, drew his little sword with some difficulty from -, its sheath, and after appearing to aim one
or" two blows at some imaginary enemy, returned it to its scabbard, and was marching with a very dignified air past his mother, when she rose from her seat, and suddenly clasping the young warrior in her arms, smothered him with kisse«.
" Pray walk in, dear Doctor," said she, approaching me, after setting down the child, " forgive a poor lonely mo-
" So, then, you have heard of it?"
" Heard of what?" she enquired hur ridly, slightly changing colour. I took out the Gazette. " Oh, come in, come in, and we'll sit down-I-I begin to feel -rather faint ;" her eyes fastened upon the paper I held in my hands. We sat down together upon the sofa. As soon as, with the aid of vinaigrette, she had recovered a little from her agitation, I read to her-who listened breathless-the very flattering terms in which Colonel St. Helen's conduct in a most sanguinary action, was mentioned in the despatch, with the gratifying addition, that his name
was not included in the list of either
killed or wounded. "Oh,, my noble, gallant Arthur !" she murmured, bursting into tears, " I knew ho would acquit himself well !" I wonder, Arthur, if he thought of us when he was in the field !" snatching up lier son-who, with his little hands resting on her lap, stood beside her, looking up concernedly in her face -and folding him lo her bosom. A flood of tears relieved her excitement. She ki sed the Gazette, and thanked me warmly for having brought it to her. Sfio presently rung the bell, and desired
the butler to be sent for, who soon made his appearance.
" Are they at dinner ?" she enquired, He bowed. " Then give them two bot- tles of wine, and let them drink their master's health ; for"
She could not finish the sentence, and
I added, for her-'J Colonel^ St. Helen has been engaged in a glorious astion, and bas gained great distinction"-.
" I'll give it, ma'am-sir-I will," interrupted the impatient butler; "we'll bo sure to drink my master's health, ma'am-his best health-and yours, ma'am-and the young gentleman ; Lord. sir, it couldn't be otherwise ! Ia master Imrt, sir?"
' ' Not a hair, I believe," 1 answered.
" Lord Almighty !" he exclaimed, un- consciously snapping his fingers, as his hands hung down, " only to think of it, ma'am-how glad you must be, ma'am and young master there, ma am ; but how could it be otherwise, ma'am ?"
" Thank you Bennet, thank you ! make yourselves happy, for I am sure 1 am," replied Mrs. St. Helen, as well as her agi- tation would allow her-and the butler withdrew. Poor Mrs. St. Helen asked me a hundred questions, which I had no more means of answering than herself ; and, in short, waa evidently greatly excited. As I stood at the open window, which oponed on the lawn, admiring for a moment 'the prospect it commanded, my eye caught the figure of a cavalry officer, in undress uniform, followed by li is groom, cantering easily towards Densleigh.
« Who can this be, Mrs. St. Helen ?" said I, pointing him out to her, as she rose from the sofa. ' ^
" Who, Doctor ? where,?" she en- quired, hastily.
" It is an officer, in undress uniform, .evidently coming hither,-I suppose he brings you official information." At that moment the approaching figures were again, for an instant, visible at a sudden turn of the road ; and Mrs. St. Helen, slightly changing colour, exclaimed, with, as I thought, a certain tremonr easily accounted for-" Oh, yes-I know who it ¡s-Captain Alverley, aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief-no doubt he comes to tell me what I know already, through your kindness-and-he may also bring me letters."
"Very possibly'.-Well, dear Mrs St. Helen, I most cordially congratulate you on this good news ; but, pray, don't suffer yourself to be excited," said I, taking up my hat and stick.
" Don't- don't hurry away, Doctor," she replied. I took lier hand in mine, It was cold, and trembled. I hastily repeated my advice, having already staid longer than my engagements allowed,
ami took my leave. As I reached my carriage, Captain Alverley-if such was the officer's name-was just entering'the gate, which his groom was holding open,
" Well," thought I, as T drove oiT, " if I were Colonel St. Holen'; and six or seven thousand miles off", I should not exactly prefer a tStc-ù-ttte, even on ihc subject of my own magnificent exploits, between my beautiful wife and that hand- some officer,"-for certainly, as far as my hurried scrutiny went, I never had seen a man with a finer person and air, or a moro prepossessing countenance.
That was the first time that I had ever
seen or heard of Captain Alverley.
Some little time after this occurrence, the death of an elder brother entitled Colonel St. Helen to an income of several
thousands a-ycar, and a house in the immediate neighbourhood of Berkeley Square. This was an event the Colonel had anticipated before leaving England, as his brother had long been in a declin- ing state of health : and he had arranged .with his solicitor and man of business, that should the event take place before the expiration of the term for which he held Densleigh, efforts were to be made to continue the lease, and the house in
- Street was to he let, but not for longer than three years. If, however, Densleigh could not be secured for a further lease, then Mrs. St. Helen was to occupy-Street, till the Colonel's return to England. Colonel St., Helen's brother died shortly before tho lease of Densleigh expired, and its proprietor, wishing to live in it himself, declined to renew the lease. The necessary arrange- ments therefore were made for removing Mrs. St. Helen, with her establishment, to-Street-a noble residence, which the Colonel had left orders should, in the contingency which had happened, be furnished entirely according to Mrs. St.
Helen's wishes. He had also made the proper arrangements for putting her in possrssion of an additional allowance of ¿£2,000 a-year ; and under the judicious superintendence of his solicitor, all those arrangements were speedily and satisfac- torily carried into effect ; and Mrs. St. Helen was duly installed the mistress of her new and elegant residence, with a handsome equipage, a full retinue of servants, and a clear income of .£3,500 a-year, including her foi mer allowance. Oh, unhappy, infatuated husband, to have made sucli an arrangement ! Would that you had never permitted your lovely wife to cuter such scenes of dazzling dangcr
that you had rather placed her in secret retirement till your return-far from the "garish ej-o" of the world-even in some lone sequestered spot
" Where glide tho sunbeams through tho Intticod
And fell liko dew-drops on the spangled giound, To light the diamond beetle on his wny ;
Whom cheerful openings lot the sky look down ' Into tho very heart of solitude,
On littlo garden-plots of social flowers,
That ci on dod from-tho shades to peep at daylight; Or whorn impermeable foliage mado
Midnight at noon, and chill damp horror reign'd O'er dead fallen leaves and shining funguses ;"
-any where but in London. It was done, however, at the impulse of a gene- rous confiding nature - though in fatal
error-for the best !
I was driving home down-Street one evening alone, on my return from a dinner part3r, where I was stopped ibr n moment by a crowd of carriages oppo- site Lady-'s ; and recollected that I had promised to look in, if possible. I therefore got out, and made my way as
soon as I could into the crowded mansion.
Can any thing be absurder than such a scene ? I always disliked balls and routs ; but such as these must be perfectly into- lerable, I fancy, to any sober, rational perso7i. It was full five minutes before I could force my way up stairs and along the spacious landing, to the door of the principal room, into which " all the" unhappy " world" ha4 squeezed itself, and was undergoing purgatory. How many hundreds of ladies' maids and vajets would have gone distracted to see their, mistresses and masters so unable to display their handiwork-standingjammed together !-but this is enjoyment and fashion-why should I find fault with those who experience pleasure in such sceneB ? After gazing on the glistening confused scene for a moment, admiring the fortitude of those who were enduring the heat and pressure without a murmur, perceiving no one that I knew, at least within speaking distance, 1 passed on towards another room, in search of Lady -, whom I wished to show that I had kept my promise. The second room was much less crowded, and real, not make believe, dancing was going forward.
" She's very beautiful, is she not ?" said a gentleman just before me, to one of tho two ladies who leaned upon his arm, and who. seemed looking critically at the dancers-" Y-c-s, rather," was the answer, în a languid, drawling tone.
" Waltzes well enough," said the other lady, " but for my part I quite dislike to
" Dislike to see it ? You joke," inter- rupted the gentleman : " why do you dislike it ? Upon my honour, I think it's quite a treat to see such waltzing as
, " Oh, I dare say its all correct enough, if one comes to that. I must own, I should not waltz myself, if I were mar- ried," said the glistening skeleton on his right arm, droppingits elaborately dressed
head with a would-be naive air. The ladies were two of the daughters of the Earl of Ilctheringham-I knew not who the gentleman was.
" Really, I must say it's too bad, under circumstances," said one of the ladiesf disdainfully eyeing a couple who were floating gracefully round the room, and who presently stopped in front of where I was standing.-the ladf apparently
exhausted for the moment with her exertion. The reader may guess my feelings on recognising in these waltzers -Captain Alverley and Mrs. St. Helen ! Fearful of encountering her eye, I slipped away from where I had been standing but not before I heard one of the lair] critics, immediately before whom the pair of waltzers were standing, address her, with a sweet air, and compliment her on her performance ! At a little distance I continued to observe her movements.
She was dressed magnificently, nnd be- came her dress magnificently. Site wai certainly the mort beautiful woman in tho room; and, willi her companion, who was in full regimentals, one ol' the most conspicuous couples pic»cnt. After a few minutes' pause, spent in con vorging with her two affectionate cousins, she su fibred her partner gently to load her off again among the wallzors. I could not help following her motions with mingled feelings of pity' and indignation. 1 resolved to throw myself in her way before,quitting the room ; and for thtît purpose stepped in front of the circle of bystanders. I knew a little of Captain Alverley's.Vcliaractcr, at least, by. his rcputalion ; and recollected the agitation his approach had occasioned her, on my pointing out his figure at Densleigh. There were four or five couples waltzing ; and those whom I was so eagerly ob- serving, a second time stopped imme- diately in front of where I now stood he apologizing for the force with which ho had come against mc She, too, ob- served it, and turned her head to see to whom her partner had apologized. The instant she recognised me, her features
became suffused willi crimson. Her
companion observed it, and looked at me with a surprised and haughty air, as if designing to discourage me from speak- ing to her. I was not, however, to be deterred by such a trifle.
"How are you, Doctor ?"-said, or rather stammered Mrs. St. Helen, giving me her hand, which I thought trembled
" When did you hear from the Colo- nel last ?" 1 enquired presently, disre- garding the insulting air of impatience manifested by Captain Alverley, who could not avoid, observing the slight agi- tation and surprise my presence bud occasioned his beautiful partner.
" Oh-I heard from India-not for several mon tits-oh, yes, I did, about six weeks ago-He was very well when he wrote." Partly with the fatigue of waltzing, and partly through mental dib composure, she was evidently agitated. She would have continued her conver- sation with me, but Captain Alverley insisted on taking her in quest of a scat, and of refreshment. I soon after quitted the house, without any further attempt to see Lady-; and my thoughts were so much occupied with the casual recontrc I have just described, that I walked several paces down the street, on my way home, before I recollected that my carriage was waiting for me. I had.seen nothing whatever that was di- rectly improper-and yet I felt,
grieved as though I had. Good God ii was this the way in which Mrs. St. |
Helen testified her love for her generous, confiding husband-for him who had so affectionately secured her, by anticipa- tion, the means of enjoying his expected
accession of fortune-for him who wag at
that moment, possibly, gallantly charging in action with the enemies of his country ~or who might have already received the wound which rendered her a widow and her children fatherless ? What "ac- cursed influence had deadened her' keen sensibilities-had impaired her delicate perception of propriety? I bcgati to feel heavy misgivings about this Captain Alverley-in short, I reached home full of vexing thoughts-for Mrs. St. Helen had suddenly sunk many, many degrees in my estimation. Siie did not appear, to me to be the same woman that 1 had"
seen pome twelve months before at Den- | sleigh -the tender mother, the enthusias- tic wife,-ivhat had come to her?
I thought it not improbable that l| should, in the morning, receive a mes-
sage from her, requesting a visit during | the day ; and I was not mistaken-for
while sitting at breakfast, her servant I brought nie in a note to that effect requesting me to call, if convenient, he
fore one o'dock. I foresaw that our I interview would ha of a different descrip- tion to any former one. However uneasy I felt on her account, I did not desire to be placed in the disagreeable position of receiving explanations and excuses which nothing had called forth but her own consciousness of impropriety, and my involuntarily air of astonishment on the preceding evening. 1 had so many en-
gagements that day, that it was nearly |
two o'clock before I could reach Mrs.
St. Helen's. She sate In the drawing- | room, with her sister-in-law, Mrs. Ogil- vie, who had called about an hour before,
a very elegant, sweet woman, some ten I or twelve years her senior. I had evi- dently interrupted an unpleasant inter- view Letwecn thom ; for the former was in tears, and the latter looked agitated, while, consequently, all of us looked
" Doctor-" said Mrs. St. Helen, [ quickly, after a few ordinary enquiries, |
" now, do pray tell me, did you see any thing objectionable in my"
" Emma ! how can you be so foolish," interrupted Mrs. Ogilvie, rising with much displeasure. " I am really ex- tremely vexed with you !" and she quitted the room without regarding Mrs. St. Helen's entreaties that she would stay. I should have liked to follow her, or that she had remained during my brief visit. I proceeded immediately, with a matter
of-fact air, to make a few professional |
" But, my dear Doctor-," said she, earnestly, without answering my questions-" do tell me candidly, what did jon see so very particular-and amiss - in my conduct last night?"
" What did I seo amiss? Dear Mrs. St. Helen, j on amaze me ! I had not been at Lady-'s above a minute or two before we met, and I leit almost directly after"
" Then what did your look mean ? Do, dear Doctor, tell me what that look meant-I really could not help observing it-and I can't forget it.
" Mrs. St. Helen! you really quite you must have strangely mistaken my
" Perhaps you don't-I suppose ?-? that is-I know what you meant-was it that you didn't like to see married women waltzing ! Now, do tell me, for I feel quite unhappy."
" Well, since you are so very anxious to know my opinion, I have no hesitation in saying a"- i
"Oltj pray go,' on, Doctor !" »inter- rupted Mrs. St. Helen, iinpatinvlly.
Why, all I w|B going to say is, that I certainly do net feel particularly phas- ed-but I may be quite absurd-at see- ing married women wall zing, especially
" Doar Doctor, and why not ? You enn'f think how much T i expert your opi- nion ; but surely, good heavens ! what
can there bo indelicate"
Mis. St. Helen! I did not use tho word"
" Well, but I know you meant it ; why won't you be candid now, Doctor ? Tint had you no other reason '.'" Her eyes
filled willi tears.
"My dear Mra. St. Helen! what reason could I possibly have ?" I inter rupted, gravely-wishing to put an end to what ihrcatcncd to become a very un- pleasant discussion. " I have given you an answer to the strange question you asked ; and now suppose"
" Oh, Doctor, it is useless to attempt putting me off in this way-I can read a look as well as any one. I must have been blind not to have seen yours. The fact is-I suppose"-she raked lier hand- kerchief to nor oyes, which were again beginning to glisten with tears-" if you wotdd but be honest-did you not think I M'as wrong in waltzing when my hus- band-is abroad-and- in danger ?" She
" Really, Mrs. St. Helen, you will persist in making my position here so unpleasant, that I must indeed take my
leave." At that moment I heard the
sound of a horse's feet approaching in the street. Mrs. St. Helen heard it, too ; and hurrying to the bell, pulled it with undis- guised trepidation. As soon as the servant entered she said, in a vehement tone, .' Not at home! Not at home !" In spite of her efforts to conceal it, she trembled violently, nnd her face became paler than be ñire. Dctei mined to ascertain whether or not my sudden suspicions were correct, I rose, intending to walk to the window, when I expected to see Captain Alverley} but she prevented me, doubtless purposely, extending her ann towards me, and beg- ging mo to feel her pulse. So I was kept engaged till I heard the hall-door closed, after an evident parley, and the retreating of the equestrian visitor. I had been requested lo call before one o'clock-it was now past two : had she engaged to ride out with Captain Alverley ?
" Well, what do you think of my pulse, Doctor?" enquired Mrs. St. Huleu, breathing more neely, but still by no
" Why, it shows a high degree of ner- vous irritability and excitement, Mrs. St.
" Very probably ; and no wonder ! People are so cruel, and so scandalous."
She burst into tears. " Here's my sister been lecturing me this hour-half killing nie ! She insists"
" Pray restrain your feelings, Mrs. St. Helen ! Why all this agitation ? I am not your father confessor," said I, endeavouring to assume a gay air. Mrs. St. Helen "paused, and sobbed heavily.
" She tells me that my behaviour is so-so light, that I am getting myself talked about."-She seemed exceedingly distressed. " Now, dear Doctor, if you really lovc.mo, ar a very, very old friend -I'm sure I love you!-do tell me can- didly, have you ever heard any thing ?"
" Never, Mrs. St. Helen, I solemnly assure., you, have I heard your name mentioned, to my knowledge, till last night, w hen I happened to overhear two ladies, who seemed to be wondering at your waltzing"
" Oh," she interrupted mo with great vivacity, " I know who they were ! My cousins! My sweet, good-natured cou- sins Oh, the vipers ! Wherever I go they hiss at me ! But I'll endure it no longer ! I'll drive to.- Square this very day, and insist"
" If you do, Mrs. St. Helen, and mention one syllable of what I have perhaps unguardedly told you, and what I could not help overhearing, we never
' Then what am I to do?" she exclaimed, passionately. " Am I to endure all this ? Must I suffer myself to be slandered with impunity ¿"
" God forbid, Mrs. St. Helen, that you
.hould be slandered."
"Then what am I to do?"
" Give no occasion," I answered, more drily perhaps titan I intended.
;t Give no occasion, indeed !" echoed Mrs. St. Helen, with an indignant air, rising at the same time and walking rapidly to and fro. " And who says that T ever have given occasion ?" fixing her bright eye upon me with a kind of defi-
:i Mrs. St. Helen, you greatly grieve and surprise me by all this. You ask me again and again for an answer to a very strange question, and when at length you get one, you are affronted with me for giving it. , 1 declare that I know no- thing whatever about your conduct, one way or the other. But. since you have forced me to speak, very reluctantly, for
I have no business to enter into such
matters, I can but repeat what I have said, that if the tongue of scandal and envy is busy with you, you must bo ex- traordinarily on your guard to let your conduct give them tile lie."
" My dear Doctor," said she suddenly resuming her scat, and speaking in4he sweetcst and most sorrowful tone of voice, " I will be moro guarded; I will not waltz again."
"I am delighted to hear you say so, Mrs. St. Helen". I know well your high honor, your purity of principle ; but, be- lieve me, your innocent unsuspecting frankness may yet expose 3'ou to danger.
Why may I not tell you the feelings oft my heart,"dear Mrs. St. Helen? they are towards you more those of a father than of'a friend or a physician. You are yet young, why should I not tell you what you know-you are very beautiful ;" she "buried her face in lier handkei chief, and sobbed almost convulsively. " The men of the world - of fashion-into whose way you have been lately so much thrown, are often very unprincipled and base; they may with subtle wickedness, contrive snares for you that your innocent inex- perience cannot detect till perhaps tuo late." She involuntarily squeezed my
hain!, for I held hera, but attempted no reply. " Now, may I tell you what was rcnliy passing through my mind last night at Lady -'s ?" ' She spoke not,
but continued her face in her handker- chief. " I was thinking that, perhaps, at the moment 3rou were being whirled round the room by that Captain Alverley, your gallant bur-band, charging nt the bend of bia regiment, might be tumbling
dead from his horse."
" " Ah ! and po did I the moment I
saw you !" almost shrieked Mrs. \ St. Helen, suddenly raising her pallid face froro the handkerchief jn which it had been buried. I hod the greatest difficulty in preventing her going off into violent hysterics. After a long struggle with her tumultuous feelings, " Oh Arthur, Ar- thur !" she exclaimed in such a tone as brought the tears suddenly into my eyes, " if I have ever wronged you in thought, in word, or in deed
" Impossible-perfectly impossible !" I exclaimed with energy, in a cheerful exulting tone.
" No !" she exclaimed, sitting sud- denly upright, while a noble expression beamed in her excited features, which ware blanched with her vehement emo- tion«. " No, I am his wife-I am the mother of his children. I have not be- trayed them j I will not !"
I looked at her with astonishment j the wild smile passed quickly from her pallid beautiful countenance, and she sunk back on the sofa in a swoon. I instantly sum- moned assistance, and her maid, with one or two other female servants, presently
entered hastily with water and smelling
" I knew she was ill/' said her maid Joice; "she's not been quite herself, I may say this several weeks. This con- stant going out at nights doesn't do for her, and I have often told her so, sir."
" I suppose she goes out a great deal in the evenings?"
" Oh, yes, sir; three or four times a-week, and oftener, sir."
" Is it generally late before she comes
" Never hardly before three or four o'clock in the morning, sir ; and so tired and knocked up, as one may say" Here Mrs. St. Helen began to revive. She seemed very much annoyed when she had thoroughly recovered her con- sciousness, at being surrounded by the servants. After giving her a few direc- tions- for she was suffering slightly from a cold, I left, promising to call upon her again in a day or two.
Three or four times a-weeh and of- tener! rIhe words rung in my ears long after Mrs. St. Helen was out of my sight. Was this the same woman that had once enquired with such a passionate air whether Colonel St. Helen ever thought of her and her children, when he was p going to the field, and surrounded by
death ? How would that gallant heart of his have been wrung, at such a moment, had ho known in what manner she con- ducted herself during his absence ! Des- pite what had recently passed between us, I trembled for Mrs. St. Helen : I knew not how far she might be already com p mitted-to what extent her light and
thoughtless behaviour might have given encouragement to those ever ready to take advantage of such conduct: her emotions had been violent, and were no doubt genuine; and yet the agonies I bud been witnessing might be little else than the mere spasms of declining virtue !
Of Captain Alverley - the Honour- able Charles Alverley-I regret that I should have to speak at any length. But I must he is one of the main figures in this painful picture-he is the DESTUOYEK. He belonged to a high family ; was a well-educated and accomplished man of handsome person and an irrcsfctable address ; yet, nevertheless, as heartless a villain as over existed. He was a sys- tematic seducer. The fair sex he pro- fessed to idolize; yet he could not look upon them but with a lustful and cor- rupting eye. He was proverbial for his gallantries ; he made every thing sub-
servient to them. His character was
well known, and yet, alas ! he was every where esteemed in society, in whose parlance he was-a gentleman! Who could resist the gay, the bland, the grace- ful Alverley, with his coronet in expec-
Why-asks one, in happy ignorance of the world about bim-is such a wretch created and suffered to infest the fairest regions of humanity? It might as well be asked, why has the Almighty created
the cobra or the crocodile !
Captain Alverley, as already intimated had excited a strong interest in Miss Annesley's heart before, she had ever seen or heard of Colonel St. Helen. Having discovered her want of fortune, he with- drew on the plea already mentioned, from the competition for her hand ; but he never lost sight of her. He had, in fact, determined, come what would, on effect- ing the ruin of Mrs. St. Helen.% And he set to work patiently, and, as he often considered, scientifically. It has been supposed-though with what truth Iknow not- that he had something or other to do with poor Colonel St. Helen's sum- mons upon foreign service : and the mo- ment that he had sailed, the fiend com- menced his operations. They were long retarded, however, by the strictly se- cluded life Mrs. St. Helen led at Dens- leigh, occupied with her holy and mater- nal duties. Would to heaven that she t had never quitted the one, or been di-
verted, even for a moment from the per- formance of the other. The accidental recontre at the Horse Guards I have al- ready mentioned. The instant that he was commissioned by his Royal master to ' ¡ bear a kind message to Mrs. St. Helen, f,he determined upon the demeanour he e should assume-one at once delicate and a deferential fraught with sympathy for her II evident sufferings. Observing her agita t j tion, he did net attempt, by a look or a e word, to remind her that they had ever c11 met before ; confining himself, with per-
fect taste, to the delivery of the message with which he had been charged. When Mrs. St. Helen abruptly drove off, in the manner already described, his vile- heart leaped for joy. His practised eye saw that her agitation was not entirely attri- butable to the errand on which she had como. He certainly had remained stand
ing in the manner Mrs. Ogilvie had des- cribed, but it was not in astonishment ; he was pondering what had just hap- pened ; and in a few moments returned to the room ho had just quitted, with a flush on his countenance, and the conscious- ness that he had commenced his infernal campaign. Some six or eight months afterwards a packet arrived at the Horse Guards from India, enclosing a loiter, which the writer, Colonel St. Helen, begged might bo thrown into the post for Mrs. St. Helen. Of'this however, Captain Alverley took charge, and that very af- ternoon rode down to Donslicgh, and delivered it with his own hand into'that of the servant-'4 with Captain Alverley's compliments"-when he rode off. Ile justly considered that this delicacy in so doing could not but be appreciated.
It was so ! Had Mrs. St. Helen then closely and faithfully examined her heart,
in order to ascertain the exact nature of
her feelings on finding that Captain Al- verley had himself brought her a letter with the immediate receipt of which he supposed she could be so much gratified, and that ho had abstained from personally delivering it;-had she done this, her terror-stricken eye might have detected the serpent, dim-gliatening in dreadful beauty, beneath the concealing foilage.
The sudden shudder wordd have been her salvation. But she did not-she could
not. Not hers was the salutary habit or the power of self-examination ; not hers, alas ! had been the blessed vigilance of a fondand virtuous mother, exercised over her youngyears ! Already, inthesightof God, had commenced the gilt of Mrs. St. Helen, who yet nevertheless was uncon- scious of the presence or approach of evil, even in thought. But why? Because of her fatal remissness in guarding the " ap- proaches of her heart." Had she then asked help from heaven, she might have perceived the danger which nothing but heaven's light could have detected. The tempter, says an old divine, " is then ever nighest, when we think him farthest off." Yes, a subtle poison had already been imperceptibly infused, in infinitely small quantity, it may be, into the heart of Mrs. St. Helen-a poison of slow but inevitable operation. O woman, this is the point of danger ! I repeat it, that, harsh and unjust as it may appear, from the moment alluded to, Mrs. St. Helen became an accomplice in effecting her own ruin. Not that she had as yet sensibly or conscious'}' suffered any injury ; the wife and tlie mother were still supreme in Mrs. Helen ; her quickanclardentfeelings knew of no other objects, no other outlets than these. O unhappy woman ! why was it that when Captain Alverley conveyed to you the intelligence of your husband's triumphs, you trembled at hearing of it? Why was that faint flutter at your heart ? Had not I already communicated all he came to tell ? What feelings -flitted through your bosom, when leaning against the window, you followed the retiring figure of Alverley. Ile had bren most eloquent in praise of your husband ; his wining tones entered your heart ; but how failed your eye to encounter tlie ardent look with which he regarded you? Ought not the conscious difference be- tween the feelings with which you re- garded him and me, or any other indif- ferent person, to have sounded the alarm in your husband's name, in every cham- ber of your heart? Ill-fated woman ! dare you appeal to heaven to testify all the feelings with which you heard of quitting Densleigh for London ? Were you even reluctant to take that step lie cause of your dislike to encounter Al- verley ? Would you avow the feelings with which )'ou found yourself becom ingintiraatc with his distinguished family? Alas ! did you not find a secret satisfac- tion at finding ^yourself sitting at Lord -.-'s dinner table, with Captain Aver lcy beside yon ? Had not your percep- tion of right and wrong been suddenly confused and disturbed, how could you
tolerate his altered demeanor towards you ? Did you not observe and trem- blingly appreciate the tact with which attentions, exquisitely flattering and gra- tifying to you, were concealed from all others? Did a sense of security from observation begin to evince itself when yon perceived the skill with which his movements were directed? What altera-
tion of feeling did not all this imply? Dreadful questions-how clearly does your disinclination to answer them indi- cate the nature of the change you are un- dergoing !
(To be Continued.)