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Title: Ormond, Volume III (of 3) - or, The Secret Witness
Author: Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810
Language: English
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ORMOND;

Or,

The Secret Witness.

by

B. C. BROWN,

Author of Wieland, or Transformation.

In Three Volumes.

VOL. III.


"Sæpe intereunt aliis meditantes necem."

                                  PHÆDRUS

"Those who plot the destruction of others, very often fall,
themselves the victims."



Philadelphia  Printed,
London, Re-Printed for Henry Colburn,
English and Foreign Public Library,
Conduit-Street, Bond-Street.
1811


       *       *       *       *       *


TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

LADY CASTLEREAGH,

THESE VOLUMES

are respectfully inscribed,

by her Ladyship's

most obedient, and humble Servant,

HENRY COLBURN.



CHAPTER I.


"My father, in proportion as he grew old and rich, became weary of
Aleppo. His natal soil, had it been the haunt of Calmucks or Bedouins,
his fancy would have transformed into Paradise. No wonder that the
equitable aristocracy and the peaceful husbandmen of Ragusa should be
endeared to his heart by comparison with Egyptian plagues and Turkish
tyranny. Besides, he lived for his children as well as himself. Their
education and future lot required him to seek a permanent home.

"He embarked, with his wife and offspring, at Scanderoon. No immediate
conveyance to Ragusa offering, the appearance of the plague in Syria
induced him to hasten his departure. He entered a French vessel for
Marseilles. After being three days at sea, one of the crew was seized by
the fatal disease which had depopulated all the towns upon the coast.
The voyage was made with more than usual despatch; but, before we
reached our port, my mother and half the crew perished. My father died
in the Lazaretto, more through grief than disease.

"My brother and I were children and helpless. My father's fortune was on
board this vessel, and was left by his death to the mercy of the
captain. This man was honest, and consigned us and our property to the
merchant with whom he dealt. Happily for us, our protector was childless
and of scrupulous integrity. We henceforth became his adopted children.
My brother's education and my own were conducted on the justest
principles.

"At the end of four years, our protector found it expedient to make a
voyage to Cayenne. His brother was an extensive proprietor in that
colony, but his sudden death made way for the succession of our friend.
To establish his claims, his presence was necessary on the spot. He was
little qualified for arduous enterprises, and his age demanded repose;
but, his own acquisitions having been small, and being desirous of
leaving us in possession of competence, he cheerfully embarked.

"Meanwhile, my brother was placed at a celebrated seminary in the Pays
de Vaud, and I was sent to a sister who resided at Verona. I was at this
time fourteen years old,--one year younger than my brother, whom, since
that period, I have neither heard of nor seen.

"I was now a woman, and qualified to judge and act for myself. The
character of my new friend was austere and devout, and there were so
many incongenial points between us that but little tranquillity was
enjoyed under her control. The priest who discharged the office of her
confessor thought proper to entertain views with regard to me, grossly
inconsistent with the sanctity of his profession. He was a man of
profound dissimulation and masterly address. His efforts, however, were
repelled with disdain. My security against his attempts lay in the
uncouthness and deformity which nature had bestowed upon his person and
visage, rather than in the firmness of my own principles.

"The courtship of Father Bartoli, the austerities of Madame Roselli, the
disgustful or insipid occupations to which I was condemned, made me
impatiently wish for a change; but my father (so I will call him) had
decreed that I should remain under his sister's guardianship till his
return from Guiana. When this would happen was uncertain. Events
unforeseen might protract it for years, but it could not arrive in less
than a twelvemonth.

"I was incessantly preyed upon by discontent. My solitude was loathsome.
I panted after liberty and friendship, and the want of these were not
recompensed by luxury and quiet, and by the instructions in useful
science which I received from Bartoli, who, though detested as a
hypocrite and lover, was venerable as a scholar. He would fain have been
an Abelard, but it was not his fate to meet with an Eloisa.

"Two years passed away in this durance. My miseries were exquisite. I am
almost at a loss to account for the unhappiness of that time, for,
looking back upon it, I perceive that an equal period could not have
been spent with more benefit. For the sake of being near me, Bartoli
importunately offered his instructions. He had nothing to communicate
but metaphysics and geometry. These were little to my taste, but I could
not keep him at a distance. I had no other alternative than to endure
him as a lover or a teacher. His passion for science was at least equal
to that which ho entertained for me, and both these passions combined to
make him a sedulous instructor. He was a disciple of the newest
doctrines respecting matter and mind. He denied the impenetrability of
the first, and the immateriality of the second. These he endeavoured to
inculcate upon me, as well as to subvert my religious tenets, because he
delighted, like all men, in transfusing his opinions, and because he
regarded my piety as the only obstacle to his designs. He succeeded in
dissolving the spell of ignorance, but not in producing that kind of
acquiescence he wished. He had, in this respect, to struggle not only
with my principles, but my weakness. He might have overcome every
obstacle but my abhorrence of deformity and age. To cure me of this
aversion was beyond his power. My servitude grew daily more painful. I
grew tired of chasing a comet to its aphelion, and of untying the knot
of an infinite series. A change in my condition became indispensable to
my very existence. Languor and sadness, and unwillingness to eat or to
move, were at last my perpetual attendants!

"Madame Roselli was alarmed at my condition. The sources of my
inquietude were incomprehensible to her. The truth was, that I scarcely
understood them myself, and my endeavours to explain them to my friend
merely instilled into her an opinion that I was either lunatic or
deceitful. She complained and admonished; but my disinclination to my
usual employments would not be conquered, and my health rapidly
declined. A physician, who was called, confessed that my case was beyond
his power to understand, but recommended, as a sort of desperate
expedient, a change of scene. A succession and variety of objects might
possibly contribute to my cure.

"At this time there arrived, at Verona, Lady D'Arcy,--an Englishwoman
of fortune and rank, and a strenuous Catholic. Her husband had lately
died; and, in order to divert her grief, as well as to gratify her
curiosity in viewing the great seat of her religion, she had come to
Italy. Intercourse took place between her and Madame Roselli. By this
means she gained a knowledge of my person and condition, and kindly
offered to take me under her protection. She meant to traverse every
part of Italy, and was willing that I should accompany her in all her
wanderings.

"This offer was gratefully accepted, in spite of the artifices and
remonstrances of Bartoli. My companion speedily contracted for me the
affection of a mother. She was without kindred of her own religion,
having acquired her faith, not by inheritance, but conversion. She
desired to abjure her native country, and to bind herself, by every
social tie, to a people who adhered to the same faith. Me she promised
to adopt as her daughter, provided her first impressions in my favour
were not belied by my future deportment.

"My principles were opposite to hers; but habit, an aversion to
displease my friend, my passion for knowledge, which my new condition
enabled me to gratify, all combined to make me a deceiver. But my
imposture was merely of a negative kind; I deceived her rather by
forbearance to contradict, and by acting as she acted, than by open
assent and zealous concurrence. My new state was, on this account, not
devoid of inconvenience. The general deportment and sentiments of Lady
D'Arcy testified a vigorous and pure mind. New avenues to knowledge, by
converse with mankind and with books, and by the survey of new scenes,
were open for my use. Gratitude and veneration attached me to my friend,
and made the task of pleasing her, by a seeming conformity of
sentiments, less irksome.

"During this interval, no tidings were received by his sister, at
Verona, respecting the fate of Sebastian Roselli. The supposition of
his death was too plausible not to be adopted. What influence this
disaster possessed over my brother's destiny, I know not. The generosity
of Lady D'Arcy hindered me from experiencing any disadvantage from this
circumstance. Fortune seemed to have decreed that I should not be
reduced to the condition of an orphan.

"At an age and in a situation like mine, I could not remain long
unacquainted with love. My abode at Rome introduced me to the knowledge
of a youth from England, who had every property which I regarded as
worthy of esteem. He was a kinsman of--Lady D'Arcy, and as such admitted
at her house on the most familiar footing. His patrimony was extremely
slender, but was in his own possession. He had no intention of
increasing it by any professional pursuit, but was contented with the
frugal provision it afforded. He proposed no other end of his existence
than the acquisition of virtue and knowledge.

"The property of Lady D'Arcy was subject to her own disposal, but, on
the failure of a testament, this youth was, in legal succession, the
next heir. He was well acquainted with her temper and views, but, in the
midst of urbanity and gentleness, studied none of those concealments of
opinion which would have secured him her favour. That he was not of her
own faith was an insuperable, but the only, obstacle to the admission of
his claims.

"If conformity of age and opinions, and the mutual fascination of love,
be a suitable basis for marriage, Wentworth and I were destined for each
other. Mutual disclosure added sanctity to our affection; but, the
happiness of Lady D'Arcy being made to depend upon the dissolution of
our compact, the heroism of Wentworth made him hasten to dissolve it. As
soon as she discovered our attachment, she displayed symptoms of the
deepest anguish. In addition to religious motives, her fondness for me
forbade her to exist but in my society and in the belief of the purity
of my faith. The contention, on my part, was vehement between the
regards due to her felicity and to my own. Had Wentworth left me the
power to decide, my decision would doubtless have evinced the frailty of
my fortitude and the strength of my passion; but, having informed me
fully of the reasons of his conduct, he precipitately retired from Rome.
He left me no means of tracing his footsteps and of assailing his
weakness by expostulation and entreaty.

"Lady D'Arcy was no less eager to abandon a spot where her happiness had
been so imminently endangered. Our next residence was Palermo. I will
not dwell upon the sensations produced by this disappointment in me. I
review them with astonishment and self-compassion. If I thought it
possible for me to sink again into imbecility so ignominious, I should
be disposed to kill myself.

"There was no end to vows of fondness and tokens of gratitude in Lady
D'Arcy. Her future life should be devoted to compensate me for this
sacrifice. Nothing could console her in that single state in which she
intended to live, but the consolations of my fellowship. Her conduct
coincided for some time with these professions, and my anguish was
allayed by the contemplation of the happiness conferred upon one whom I
revered.

"My friend could not be charged with dissimulation and artifice. Her
character had been mistaken by herself as well as by me. Devout
affections seemed to have filled her heart, to the exclusion of any
object besides myself. She cherished with romantic tenderness the memory
of her husband, and imagined that a single state was indispensably
enjoined upon her by religious duty. This persuasion, however, was
subverted by the arts of a Spanish cavalier, young, opulent, and
romantic as herself in devotion. An event like this might, indeed, have
been easily predicted, by those who reflected that the lady was still in
the bloom of life, ardent in her temper, and bewitching in her manners.

"The fondness she had lavished upon me was now, in some degree,
transferred to a new object; but I still received the treatment due to a
beloved daughter. She was solicitous as ever to promote my
gratification, and a diminution of kindness would not have been
suspected by those who had not witnessed the excesses of her former
passion. Her marriage with the Spaniard removed the obstacle to union
with Wentworth. This man, however, had set himself beyond the reach of
my inquiries. Had there been the shadow of a clue afforded me, I should
certainly have sought him to the ends of the world.

"I continued to reside with my friend, and accompanied her and her
husband to Spain. Antonio de Leyva was a man of probity. His mind was
enlightened by knowledge and his actions dictated by humanity. Though
but little older than myself, and young enough to be the son of his
spouse, his deportment to me was a model of rectitude and delicacy. I
spent a year in Spain, partly in the mountains of Castile and partly at
Segovia. New manners and a new language occupied my attention for a
time; but these, losing their novelty, lost their power to please. I
betook myself to books, to beguile the tediousness and diversify the
tenor of my life.

"This would not have long availed; but I was relieved from new
repinings, by the appointment of Antonio de Leyva to a diplomatic office
at Vienna. Thither we accordingly repaired. A coincidence of
circumstances had led me wide from the path of ambition and study
usually allotted to my sex and age. From the computation of eclipses, I
now betook myself to the study of man. My proficiency, when I allowed it
to be seen, attracted great attention. Instead of adulation and
gallantry, I was engaged in watching the conduct of states and revolving
the theories of politicians.

"Superficial observers were either incredulous with regard to my
character, or connected a stupid wonder with their belief. My
attainments and habits they did not see to be perfectly consonant with
the principles of human nature. They unavoidably flowed from the illicit
attachment of Bartoli, and the erring magnanimity of Wentworth. Aversion
to the priest was the grand inciter of my former studies; the love of
Wentworth, whom I hoped once more to meet, made me labour to exclude the
importunities of others, and to qualify myself for securing his
affections.

"Since our parting in Italy, Wentworth had traversed Syria and Egypt,
and arrived some months after me at Vienna. He was on the point of
leaving the city, when accident informed me of his being there. An
interview was effected, and, our former sentiments respecting each other
having undergone no change, we were united. Madame de Leyva reluctantly
concurred with our wishes, and, at parting, forced upon me a
considerable sum of money.

"Wentworth's was a character not frequently met with in the world. He
was a political enthusiast, who esteemed nothing more graceful or
glorious than to die for the liberties of mankind. He had traversed
Greece with an imagination full of the exploits of ancient times, and
derived, from contemplating Thermopylæ and Marathon, an enthusiasm that
bordered upon frenzy.

"It was now the third year of the Revolutionary War in America, and,
previous to our meeting at Vienna, he had formed the resolution of
repairing thither and tendering his service to the Congress as a
volunteer. Our marriage made no change in his plans. My soul was
engrossed by two passions,--a wild spirit of adventure, and a boundless
devotion to him. I vowed to accompany him in every danger, to vie with
him in military ardour, to combat and to die by his side.

"I delighted to assume the male dress, to acquire skill at the sword,
and dexterity in every boisterous exercise. The timidity that commonly
attends women gradually vanished. I felt as if imbued by a soul that was
a stranger to the sexual distinction. We embarked at Brest, in a frigate
destined for St. Domingo. A desperate conflict with an English ship in
the Bay of Biscay was my first introduction to a scene of tumult and
danger of whose true nature I had formed no previous conception. At
first I was spiritless and full of dismay. Experience, however,
gradually reconciled me to the life that I had chosen.

"A fortunate shot, by dismasting the enemy, allowed us to prosecute our
voyage unmolested. At Cape François we found a ship which transported
us, after various perils, to Richmond, in Virginia. I will not carry you
through the adventures of four years. You, sitting all your life in
peaceful corners, can scarcely imagine that variety of hardship and
turmoil which attends the female who lives in a camp.

"Few would sustain these hardships with better grace than I did. I could
seldom be prevailed on to remain at a distance, and inactive, when my
husband was in battle, and more than once rescued him from death by the
seasonable destruction of his adversary.

"At the repulse of the Americans at Germantown, Wentworth was wounded
and taken prisoner. I obtained permission to attend his sick-bed and
supply that care without which he would assuredly have died. Being
imperfectly recovered, he was sent to England and subjected to a
rigorous imprisonment. Milder treatment might have permitted his
complete restoration to health; but, as it was, he died.

"His kindred were noble, and rich, and powerful; but it was difficult to
make them acquainted with Wentworth's situation. Their assistance, when
demanded, was readily afforded; but it came too late to prevent his
death. Me they snatched from my voluntary prison, and employed every
friendly art to efface from my mind the images of recent calamity.

"Wentworth's singularities of conduct and opinion had estranged him at
an early age from his family. They felt little regret at his fate, but
every motive concurred to secure their affection and succour to me. My
character was known to many officers, returned from America, whose
report, joined with the influence of my conversation, rendered me an
object to be gazed at by thousands. Strange vicissitude! Now immersed in
the infection of a military hospital, the sport of a wayward fortune,
struggling with cold and hunger, with negligence and contumely. A month
after, passing into scenes of gayety and luxury, exhibited at operas and
masquerades, made the theme of inquiry and encomium at every place of
resort, and caressed by the most illustrious among the votaries of
science and the advocates of the American cause.

"Here I again met Madame de Leyva. This woman was perpetually assuming
new forms. She was a sincere convert to the Catholic religion, but she
was open to every new impression. She was the dupe of every powerful
reasoner, and assumed with equal facility the most opposite shapes. She
had again reverted to the Protestant religion, and, governed by a
headlong zeal in whatever cause she engaged, she had sacrificed her
husband and child to a new conviction.

"The instrument of this change was a man who passed, at that time, for a
Frenchman. He was young, accomplished, and addressful, but was not
suspected of having been prompted by illicit views, or of having seduced
the lady from allegiance to her husband as well as to her God. De Leyva,
however, who was sincere in his religion as well as his love, was hasty
to avenge this injury, and, in a contest with the Frenchman, was killed.
His wife adopted at once her ancient religion and country, and was once
more an Englishwoman.

"At our meeting her affection for me seemed to be revived, and the most
passionate entreaties were used to detain me in England. My previous
arrangements would not suffer it. I foresaw restraints and
inconveniences from the violence and caprice of her passions, and
intended henceforth to keep my liberty inviolate by any species of
engagement, either of friendship or marriage. My habits were French, and
I proposed henceforward to take up my abode at Paris. Since his voyage
to Guiana, I had heard no tidings of Sebastian Roselli. This man's image
was cherished with filial emotions, and I conceived that the sight of
him would amply reward a longer journey than from London to Marseilles.

"Beyond my hopes, I found him in his ancient abode. The voyage, and a
residence of three years at Cayenne, had been beneficial to his
appearance and health. He greeted me with paternal tenderness, and
admitted me to a full participation of his fortune, which the sale of
his American property had greatly enhanced. He was a stranger to the
fate of my brother. On his return home he had gone to Switzerland, with
a view of ascertaining his destiny. The youth, a few months after his
arrival at Lausanne, had eloped with a companion, and had hitherto
eluded all Roselli's searches and inquiries. My father was easily
prevailed upon to transfer his residence from Provence to Paris."

Here Martinette paused, and, marking the clock, "It is time," resumed
she, "to begone. Are you not weary of my tale? On the day I entered
France, I entered the twenty-third year of my age, so that my promise of
detailing my youthful adventures is fulfilled. I must away. Till we meet
again, farewell."



CHAPTER II.


Such was the wild series of Martinette's adventures. Each incident
fastened on the memory of Constantia, and gave birth to numberless
reflections. Her prospect of mankind seemed to be enlarged, on a sudden,
to double its ancient dimensions. Ormond's narratives had carried her
beyond the Mississippi, and into the deserts of Siberia. He had
recounted the perils of a Russian war, and painted the manners of
Mongols and Naudowessies. Her new friend had led her back to the
civilized world and portrayed the other half of the species. Men, in
their two forms of savage and refined, had been scrutinized by these
observers; and what was wanting in the delineations of the one was
liberally supplied by the other.

Eleven years in the life of Martinette was unrelated. Her conversation
suggested the opinion that this interval had been spent in France. It
was obvious to suppose that a woman thus fearless and sagacious had not
been inactive at a period like the present, which called forth talents
and courage without distinction of sex, and had been particularly
distinguished by female enterprise and heroism. Her name easily led to
the suspicion of concurrence with the subverters of monarchy, and of
participation in their fall. Her flight from the merciless tribunals of
the faction that now reigned would explain present appearances.

Martinette brought to their next interview an air of uncommon
exultation. On this being remarked, she communicated the tidings of the
fall of the sanguinary tyranny of Robespierre. Her eyes sparkled, and
every feature was pregnant with delight, while she unfolded, with her
accustomed energy, the particulars of this tremendous revolution. The
blood which it occasioned to flow was mentioned without any symptoms of
disgust or horror.

Constantia ventured to ask if this incident was likely to influence her
own condition.

"Yes. It will open the way for my return."

"Then you think of returning to a scene of so much danger?"

"Danger, my girl? It is my element. I am an adorer of liberty, and
liberty without peril can never exist."

"But so much bloodshed and injustice! Does not your heart shrink from
the view of a scene of massacre and tumult, such as Paris has lately
exhibited and will probably continue to exhibit?"

"Thou talkest, Constantia, in a way scarcely worthy of thy good sense.
Have I not been three years in a camp? What are bleeding wounds and
mangled corpses, when accustomed to the daily sight of them for years?
Am I not a lover of liberty? and must I not exult in the fall of
tyrants, and regret only that my hand had no share in their
destruction?"

"But a woman--how can the heart of woman be inured to the shedding of
blood?"

"Have women, I beseech thee, no capacity to reason and infer? Are they
less open than men to the influence of habit? My hand never faltered
when liberty demanded the victim. If thou wert with me at Paris, I could
show thee a fusil of two barrels, which is precious beyond any other
relic, merely because it enabled me to kill thirteen officers at
Jemappe. Two of these were emigrant nobles, whom I knew and loved before
the Revolution, but the cause they had since espoused cancelled their
claims to mercy."

"What!" said the startled Constantia; "have you fought in the ranks?"

"Certainly. Hundreds of my sex have done the same. Some were impelled by
the enthusiasm of love, and some by a mere passion for war; some by the
contagion of example; and some--with whom I myself must be ranked--by a
generous devotion to liberty. Brunswick and Saxe-Coburg had to contend
with whole regiments of women,--regiments they would have formed, if
they had been collected into separate bodies.

"I will tell thee a secret. Thou wouldst never have seen Martinette de
Beauvais, if Brunswick had deferred one day longer his orders for
retreating into Germany."

"How so?"

"She would have died by her own hand."

"What could lead to such an outrage?"

"The love of liberty."

"I cannot comprehend how that love should prompt you to suicide."

"I will tell thee. The plan was formed, and could not miscarry. A woman
was to play the part of a banished Royalist, was to repair to the
Prussian camp, and to gain admission to the general. This would have
easily been granted to a female and an ex-noble. There she was to
assassinate the enemy of her country, and to attest her magnanimity by
slaughtering herself. I was weak enough to regret the ignominious
retreat of the Prussians, because it precluded the necessity of such a
sacrifice."

This was related with accents and looks that sufficiently attested its
truth. Constantia shuddered, and drew back, to contemplate more
deliberately the features of her guest. Hitherto she had read in them
nothing that bespoke the desperate courage of a martyr and the deep
designing of an assassin. The image which her mind had reflected from
the deportment of this woman was changed. The likeness which she had,
feigned to herself was no longer seen. She felt that antipathy was
preparing to displace love. These sentiments, however, she concealed,
and suffered the conversation to proceed.

Their discourse now turned upon the exploits of several women who
mingled in the tumults of the capital and in the armies on the
frontiers. Instances were mentioned of ferocity in some, and magnanimity
in others, which almost surpassed belief. Constantia listened greedily,
though not with approbation, and acquired, at every sentence, new desire
to be acquainted with the personal history of Martinette. On mentioning
this wish, her friend said that she endeavoured to amuse her exile by
composing her own memoirs, and that, on her next visit, she would bring
with her the volume, which she would suffer Constantia to read.

A separation of a week elapsed. She felt some impatience for the renewal
of their intercourse, and for the perusal of the volume that had been
mentioned. One evening Sarah Baxter, whom Constantia had placed in her
own occasional service, entered the room with marks of great joy and
surprise, and informed her that she at length had discovered Miss
Monrose. From her abrupt and prolix account, it appeared that Sarah had
overtaken Miss Monrose in the street, and, guided by her own curiosity,
as well as by the wish to gratify her mistress, she had followed the
stranger. To her utter astonishment, the lady had paused at Mr. Dudley's
door, with a seeming resolution to enter it, but presently resumed her
way. Instead of pursuing her steps farther, Sarah had stopped to
communicate this intelligence to Constantia. Having delivered her news,
she hastened away, but, returning, in a moment, with a countenance of
new surprise, she informed her mistress that on leaving the house she
had met Miss Monrose at the door, on the point of entering. She added
that the stranger had inquired for Constantia, and was now waiting
below.

Constantia took no time to reflect upon an incident so unexpected and so
strange, but proceeded forthwith to the parlour. Martinette only was
there. It did not instantly occur to her that this lady and Mademoiselle
Monrose might possibly be the same. The inquiries she made speedily
removed her doubts, and it now appeared that the woman about whose
destiny she had formed so many conjectures and fostered so much anxiety
was no other than the daughter of Roselli.

Having readily answered her questions, Martinette inquired, in her turn,
into the motives of her friend's curiosity. These were explained by a
succinct account of the transactions to which the deceased Baxter had
been a witness. Constantia concluded with mentioning her own reflections
on the tale, and intimating her wish to be informed how Martinette had
extricated herself from a situation so calamitous.

"Is there any room for wonder on that head?" replied the guest. "It was
absurd to stay longer in the house. Having finished the interment of
Roselli, (soldier-fashion,) for he was the man who suffered his foolish
regrets to destroy him, I forsook the house. Roselli was by no means
poor, but he could not consent to live at ease, or to live at all, while
his country endured such horrible oppressions, and when so many of his
friends had perished. I complied with his humour, because it could not
be changed, and I revered him too much to desert him."

"But whither," said Constantia, "could you seek shelter at a time like
that? The city was desolate, and a wandering female could scarcely be
received under any roof. All inhabited houses were closed at that hour,
and the fear of infection would have shut them against you if they had
not been already so."

"Hast thou forgotten that there were at that time at least ten thousand
French in this city, fugitives from Marat and from St. Domingo? That
they lived in utter fearlessness of the reigning disease,--sung and
loitered in the public walks, and prattled at their doors, with all
their customary unconcern? Supposest thou that there were none among
these who would receive a countrywoman, even if her name had not been
Martinette de Beauvais? Thy fancy has depicted strange things; but
believe me that, without a farthing and without a name, I should not
have incurred the slightest inconvenience. The death of Roselli I
foresaw, because it was gradual in its approach, and was sought by him
as a good. My grief, therefore, was exhausted before it came, and I
rejoiced at his death, because it was the close of all his sorrows. The
rueful pictures of my distress and weakness which were given by Baxter
existed only in his own fancy."

Martinette pleaded an engagement, and took her leave, professing to have
come merely to leave with her the promised manuscript. This interview,
though short, was productive of many reflections on the deceitfulness of
appearances, and on the variety of maxims by which the conduct of human
beings is regulated. She was accustomed to impart all her thoughts and
relate every new incident to her father. With this view she now hied to
his apartment. This hour it was her custom, when disengaged, always to
spend with him.

She found Mr. Dudley busy in revolving a scheme which various
circumstances had suggested and gradually conducted to maturity. No
period of his life had been equally delightful with that portion of his
youth which he had spent in Italy. The climate, the language, the
manners of the people, and the sources of intellectual gratification in
painting and music, were congenial to his taste. He had reluctantly
forsaken these enchanting seats, at the summons of his father, but, on
his return to his native country, had encountered nothing but ignominy
and pain. Poverty and blindness had beset his path, and it seemed as if
it were impossible to fly too far from the scene of his disasters. His
misfortunes could not be concealed from others, and every thing around
him seemed to renew the memory of all that he had suffered. All the
events of his youth served to entice him to Italy, while all the
incidents of his subsequent life concurred to render disgustful his
present abode.

His daughter's happiness was not to be forgotten. This he imagined would
be eminently promoted by the scheme. It would open to her new avenues to
knowledge. It would snatch her from the odious pursuit of Ormond, and,
by a variety of objects and adventures, efface from her mind any
impression which his dangerous artifices might have made upon it.

This project was now communicated to Constantia. Every argument adapted
to influence her choice was employed. He justly conceived that the only
obstacle to her adoption of it related to Ormond. He expatiated on the
dubious character of this man, the wildness of his schemes, and the
magnitude of his errors. What could be expected from a man, half of
whose life had been spent at the head of a band of Cossacks, spreading
devastation in the regions of the Danube, and supporting by flagitious
intrigues the tyranny of Catharine, and the other half in traversing
inhospitable countries, and extinguishing what remained of clemency and
justice by intercourse with savages?

It was admitted that his energies were great, but misdirected, and that
to restore them to the guidance of truth was not in itself impossible;
but it was so with relation to any power that she possessed. Conformity
would flow from their marriage, but this conformity was not to be
expected from him. It was not his custom to abjure any of his doctrines
or recede from any of his claims. She knew likewise the conditions of
their union. She must go with him to some corner of the world where his
boasted system was established. What was the road to it he had carefully
concealed, but it was evident that it lay beyond the precincts of
civilized existence.

Whatever were her ultimate decision, it was at least proper to delay it.
Six years were yet wanting of that period at which only she formerly
considered marriage as proper. To all the general motives for deferring
her choice, the conduct of Ormond superadded the weightiest. Their
correspondence might continue, but her residence in Europe and converse
with mankind might enlighten her judgement and qualify her for a more
rational decision.

Constantia was not uninfluenced by these reasonings. Instead of
reluctantly admitting them, she somewhat wondered that they had not been
suggested by her own reflections. Her imagination anticipated her
entrance on that mighty scene with emotions little less than rapturous.
Her studies had conferred a thousand ideal charms on a theatre where
Scipio and Cæsar had performed their parts. Her wishes were no less
importunate to gaze upon the Alps and Pyrenees, and to vivify and
chasten the images collected from books, by comparing them with their
real prototypes.

No social ties existed to hold her to America. Her only kinsman and
friend would be the companion of her journeys. This project was likewise
recommended by advantages of which she only was qualified to judge.
Sophia Westwyn had embarked, four years previous to this date, for
England, in company with an English lady and her husband. The
arrangements that were made forbade either of the friends to hope for a
future meeting. Yet now, by virtue of this project, this meeting seemed
no longer to be hopeless.

This burst of new ideas and now hopes on the mind of Constantia took
place in the course of a single hour. No change in her external
situation had been wrought, and yet her mind had undergone the most
signal revolution. Tho novelty as well as greatness of the prospect kept
her in a state of elevation and awe, more ravishing than any she had
ever experienced. Anticipations of intercourse with nature in her most
august forms, with men in diversified states of society, with the
posterity of Greeks and Romans, and with the actors that were now upon
the stage, and, above all, with the being whom absence and the want of
other attachments had, in some sort, contributed to deify, made this
night pass away upon the wings of transport.

The hesitation which existed on parting with her father speedily gave
place to an ardour impatient of the least delay. She saw no impediments
to the immediate commencement of the voyage. To delay it a month, or
even a week, seemed to be unprofitable tardiness. In this ferment of her
thoughts, she was neither able nor willing to sleep. In arranging the
means of departure and anticipating the events that would successively
arise, there was abundant food for contemplation.

She marked the first dawnings of the day, and rose. She felt reluctance
to break upon her father's morning slumbers, but considered that her
motives were extremely urgent, and that the pleasure afforded him by her
zealous approbation of his scheme would amply compensate him for this
unseasonable intrusion on his rest. She hastened therefore to his
chamber. She entered with blithesome steps, and softly drew aside the
curtain.



CHAPTER III.


Unhappy Constantia! At the moment when thy dearest hopes had budded
afresh, when the clouds of insecurity and disquiet had retired from thy
vision, wast thou assailed by the great subverter of human schemes. Thou
sawest nothing in futurity but an eternal variation and succession of
delights. Thou wast hastening to forget dangers and sorrows which thou
fondly imaginedst were never to return. This day was to be the outset of
a new career; existence was henceforth to be embellished with enjoyments
hitherto scarcely within the reach of hope.

Alas! thy predictions of calamity seldom failed to be verified. Not so
thy prognostics of pleasure. These, though fortified by every
calculation of contingencies, were edifices grounded upon nothing. Thy
life was a struggle with malignant destiny,--a contest for happiness in
which thou wast fated to be overcome.

She stooped to kiss the venerable cheek of her father, and, by
whispering, to break his slumber. Her eye was no sooner fixed upon his
countenance, than she started back and shrieked. She had no power to
forbear. Her outcries were piercing and vehement. They ceased only with
the cessation of breath. She sunk upon a chair in a state partaking more
of death than of life, mechanically prompted to give vent to her agonies
in shrieks, but incapable of uttering a sound.

The alarm called her servants to the spot. They beheld her dumb, wildly
gazing, and gesticulating in a way that indicated frenzy. She made no
resistance to their efforts, but permitted them to carry her back to her
own chamber. Sarah called upon her to speak, and to explain the cause
of these appearances; but the shock which she had endured seemed to have
irretrievably destroyed her powers of utterance.

The terrors of the affectionate Sarah were increased. She kneeled by the
bedside of her mistress, and, with streaming eyes, besought the unhappy
lady to compose herself. Perhaps the sight of weeping in another
possessed a sympathetic influence, or nature had made provision for this
salutary change. However that be, a torrent of tears now came to her
succour, and rescued her from a paroxysm of insanity which its longer
continuance might have set beyond the reach of cure.

Meanwhile, a glance at his master's countenance made Fabian fully
acquainted with the nature of the scene. The ghastly visage of Mr.
Dudley showed that he was dead, and that he had died in some terrific
and mysterious manner. As soon as this faithful servant recovered from
surprise, the first expedient which his ingenuity suggested was to fly
with tidings of this event to Mr. Melbourne. That gentleman instantly
obeyed the summons. With the power of weeping, Constantia recovered the
power of reflection. This, for a time, served her only as a medium of
anguish. Melbourne mingled his tears with hers, and endeavoured, by
suitable remonstrances, to revive her fortitude.

The filial passion is perhaps instinctive to man; but its energy is
modified by various circumstances. Every event in the life of Constantia
contributed to heighten this passion beyond customary bounds. In the
habit of perpetual attendance on her father, of deriving from him her
knowledge, and sharing with him the hourly fruits of observation and
reflection, his existence seemed blended with her own. There was no
other whose concurrence and council she could claim, with whom a
domestic and uninterrupted alliance could be maintained. The only bond
of consanguinity was loosened, the only prop of friendship was taken
away.

Others, perhaps, would have observed that her father's existence had
been merely a source of obstruction and perplexity; that she had
hitherto acted by her own wisdom, and would find, hereafter, less
difficulty in her choice of schemes, and fewer impediments to the
execution. These reflections occurred not to her. This disaster had
increased, to an insupportable degree, the vacancy and dreariness of her
existence. The face she was habituated to behold had disappeared
forever; the voice whose mild and affecting tones had so long been
familiar to her ears was hushed into eternal silence. The felicity to
which she clung was ravished away; nothing remained to hinder her from
sinking into utter despair.

The first transports of grief having subsided, a source of consolation
seemed to be opened in the belief that her father had only changed one
form of being for another; that he still lived to be the guardian of her
peace and honour, to enter the recesses of her thought, to forewarn her
of evil and invite her to good. She grasped at these images with
eagerness, and fostered them as the only solaces of her calamity. They
were not adapted to inspire her with cheerfulness, but they sublimed her
sensations, and added an inexplicable fascination to sorrow.

It was unavoidable sometimes to reflect upon the nature of that death
which had occurred. Tokens were sufficiently apparent that outward
violence had been the cause. Who could be the performer of so black a
deed, by what motives he was guided, were topics of fruitless
conjecture. She mused upon this subject, not from the thirst of
vengeance, but from a mournful curiosity. Had the perpetrator stood
before her and challenged retribution, she would not have lifted a
finger to accuse or to punish. The evil already endured left her no
power to concert and execute projects for extending that evil to others.
Her mind was unnerved, and recoiled with loathing from considerations of
abstract justice, or political utility, when they prompted to the
prosecution of the murderer.

Melbourne was actuated by different views, but on this subject he was
painfully bewildered. Mr. Dudley's deportment to his servants and
neighbours was gentle and humane. He had no dealings with the
trafficking or labouring part of mankind. The fund which supplied his
cravings of necessity or habit was his daughter's. His recreations and
employments were harmless and lonely. The evil purpose was limited to
his death, for his chamber was exactly in the same state in which
negligent security had left it. No midnight footstep or voice, no
unbarred door or lifted window, afforded tokens of the presence or
traces of the entrance or flight of the assassin.

The meditations of Constantia, however, could not fail in some of their
circuities to encounter the image of Craig. His agency in the
impoverishment of her father, and in the scheme by which she had like to
have been loaded with the penalties of forgery, was of an impervious and
unprecedented kind. Motives were unveiled by time, in some degree
accounting for his treacherous proceeding; but there was room to suppose
an inborn propensity to mischief. Was he not the author of this new
evil? His motives and his means were equally inscrutable, but their
inscrutability might flow from her own defects in discernment and
knowledge, and time might supply her defects in this as in former
instances.

These images were casual. The causes of the evil were seldom
contemplated. Her mind was rarely at liberty to wander from reflection
on her irremediable loss. Frequently, when confused by distressful
recollections, she would detect herself going to her father's chamber.
Often his well-known accents would ring in her ears, and the momentary
impulse would be to answer his calls. Her reluctance to sit down to her
meals without her usual companion could scarcely be surmounted.

In this state of mind, the image of the only friend who survived, or
whose destiny, at least, was doubtful, occurred to her. She sunk into
fits of deeper abstraction and dissolved away in tears of more agonizing
tenderness. A week after her father's interment, she shut herself up in
her chamber, to torment herself with fruitless remembrances. The name of
Sophia Westwyn was pronounced, and the ditty that solemnized their
parting was sung. Now, more than formerly, she became sensible of the
loss of that portrait which had been deposited in the hands of M'Crea as
a pledge. As soon as her change of fortune had supplied her with the
means of redeeming it, she hastened to M'Crea for that end. To her
unspeakable disappointment, he was absent from the city; he had taken a
long journey, and the exact period of his return could not be
ascertained. His clerks refused to deliver the picture, or even, by
searching, to discover whether it was still in their master's
possession. This application had frequently and lately been repeated,
but without success; M'Crea had not yet returned, and his family were
equally in the dark as to the day on which his return might be expected.

She determined, on this occasion, to renew her visit. Her incessant
disappointments had almost extinguished hope, and she made inquiries at
his door, with a faltering accent and sinking heart. These emotions were
changed into surprise and delight, when answer was made that he had just
arrived. She was instantly conducted into his presence.

The countenance of M'Crea easily denoted that his visitant was by no
means acceptable. There was a mixture of embarrassment and sullenness in
his air, which was far from being diminished when the purpose of this
visit was explained. Constantia reminded him of the offer and acceptance
of this pledge, and of the conditions with which the transaction was
accompanied.

He acknowledged, with some hesitation, that a promise had been given to
retain the pledge until it were in her power to redeem it; but the long
delay, the urgency of his own wants, and particularly the ill treatment
which he conceived himself to have suffered in the transaction
respecting the forged note, had, in his own opinion, absolved him from
this promise. He had therefore sold the picture to a goldsmith, for as
much as the gold about it was worth.

This information produced, in the heart of Constantia, a contest between
indignation and sorrow, that for a time debarred her from speech. She
stifled the anger that was, at length, rising to her lips, and calmly
inquired to whom the picture had been sold.

M'Crea answered that for his part he had little dealings in gold and
silver, but every thing of that kind which fell to his share he
transacted with Mr. D----. This person was one of the most eminent of
his profession. His character and place of abode were universally
known. Tho only expedient that remained was to apply to him, and to
ascertain, forthwith, the destiny of the picture. It was too probable
that, when separated from its case, the portrait was thrown away or
destroyed, as a mere encumbrance, but the truth was too momentous to be
made the sport of mere probability. She left the house of M'Crea, and
hastened to that of the goldsmith.

The circumstance was easily recalled to his remembrance. It was true
that such a picture had been offered for sale, and that he had purchased
it. The workmanship was curious, and he felt unwilling to destroy it. He
therefore hung it up in his shop and indulged the hope that a purchaser
would some time be attracted by the mere beauty of the toy.

Constantia's hopes were revived by these tidings, and she earnestly
inquired if it were still in his possession.

"No. A young gentleman had entered his shop some months before: the
picture had caught his fancy, and he had given a price which the artist
owned he should not have demanded, had he not been encouraged by the
eagerness which the gentleman betrayed to possess it."

"Who was this gentleman? Had there been any previous acquaintance
between them? What was his name, his profession, and where was he to be
found?"

"Really," the goldsmith answered, "he was ignorant respecting all those
particulars. Previously to this purchase, the gentleman had sometimes
visited his shop; but he did not recollect to have since seen him. He
was unacquainted with his name and his residence."

"What appeared to be his motives for purchasing this picture?"

"The customer appeared highly pleased with it. Pleasure, rather than
surprise, seemed to be produced by the sight of it. If I were permitted
to judge," continued the artist, "I should imagine that the young man
was acquainted with the original. To say the truth, I hinted as much at
the time, and I did not see that he discouraged the supposition. Indeed,
I cannot conceive how the picture could otherwise have gained any value
in his eyes."

This only heightened the eagerness of Constantia to trace the footsteps
of the youth. It was obvious to suppose some communication or connection
between her friend and this purchaser. She repeated her inquiries, and
the goldsmith, after some consideration, said, "Why, on second thoughts,
I seem to have some notion of having seen a figure like that of my
customer go into a lodging-house in Front Street, some time before I met
with him at my shop."

The situation of this house being satisfactorily described, and the
artist being able to afford her no further information, except as to
stature and guise, she took her leave. There were two motives impelling
her to prosecute her search after this person,--the desire of regaining
this portrait and of procuring tidings of her friend. Involved as she
was in ignorance, it was impossible to conjecture how far this incident
would be subservient to these inestimable purposes. To procure an
interview with this stranger was the first measure which prudence
suggested.

She knew not his name or his person. He was once seen entering a
lodging-house. Thither she must immediately repair; but how to introduce
herself, how to describe the person of whom she was in search, she knew
not. She was beset with embarrassments and difficulties. While her
attention was entangled by these, she proceeded unconsciously on her
way, and stopped not until she reached the mansion that had been
described. Here she paused to collect her thoughts.

She found no relief in deliberation. Every moment added to her
perplexity and indecision. Irresistibly impelled by her wishes, she at
length, in a mood that partook of desperate, advanced to the door and
knocked. The summons was immediately obeyed by a woman of decent
appearance. A pause ensued, which Constantia at length terminated by a
request to see the mistress of the house.

The lady courteously answered that she was the person, and immediately
ushered her visitant into an apartment. Constantia being seated, the
lady waited for the disclosure of her message. To prolong the silence
was only to multiply embarrassments. She reverted to the state of her
feelings, and saw that they flowed from inconsistency and folly. One
vigorous effort was sufficient to restore her to composure and
self-command.

She began with apologizing for a visit unpreceded by an introduction.
The object of her inquiries was a person with whom it was of the utmost
moment that she should procure a meeting, but whom, by an unfortunate
concurrence of circumstances, she was unable to describe by the usual
incidents of name and profession. Her knowledge was confined to his
external appearance, and to the probability of his being an inmate of
this house at the beginning of the year. She then proceeded to describe
his person and dress.

"It is true," said the lady; "such a one as you describe has boarded in
this house. His name was Martynne. I have good reason to remember him,
for he lived with me three months, and then left the country without
paying for his board."

"He has gone, then?" said Constantia, greatly discouraged by these
tidings.

"Yes. He was a man of specious manners and loud pretensions. He came
from England, bringing with him forged recommendatory letters, and,
after passing from one end of the country to the other, contracting
debts which he never paid and making bargains which he never fulfilled,
he suddenly disappeared. It is likely that he has returned to Europe."

"Had he no kindred, no friends, no companions?"

"He found none here. He made pretences to alliances in England, which
better information has, I believe, since shown to be false."

This was the sum of the information procurable from this source.
Constantia was unable to conceal her chagrin. These symptoms were
observed by the lady, whose curiosity was awakened in turn. Questions
were obliquely started, inviting Constantia to a disclosure of her
thoughts. No advantage would arise from confidence, and the guest, after
a few minutes of abstraction and silence, rose to take her leave.

During this conference, some one appeared to be negligently sporting
with the keys of a harpsichord, in the next apartment. The notes were
too irregular and faint to make a forcible impression on the ear. In the
present state of her mind, Constantia was merely conscious of the sound,
in the intervals of conversation. Having arisen from her seat, her
anxiety to obtain some information that might lead to the point she
wished made her again pause. She endeavoured to invent some new
interrogatory better suited to her purpose than those which had already
been employed. A silence on both sides ensued.

During this interval, the unseen musician suddenly refrained from
rambling, and glided into notes of some refinement and complexity. The
cadence was aerial; but a thunderbolt, falling at her feet, would not
have communicated a more visible shock to the senses of Constantia. A
glance that denoted a tumult of soul bordering on distraction was now
fixed upon the door that led into the room from whence the harmony
proceeded. Instantly the cadence was revived, and some accompanying
voice was heard to warble,--

     "Ah! far beyond this world of woes
     We meet to part,--to part no more."

Joy and grief, in their sudden onset and their violent extremes,
approach so nearly in their influence on human beings as scarce to be
distinguished. Constantia's frame was still enfeebled by her recent
distresses. The torrent of emotion was too abrupt and too vehement. Her
faculties were overwhelmed, and she sunk upon the floor motionless and
without sense, but not till she had faintly articulated,--

"My God! My God! This is a joy unmerited and too great."



CHAPTER IV.


I must be forgiven if I now introduce myself on the stage. Sophia
Westwyn is the friend of Constantia, and the writer of this narrative.
So far as my fate was connected with that of my friend, it is worthy to
be known. That connection has constituted the joy and misery of my
existence, and has prompted me to undertake this task.

I assume no merit from the desire of knowledge and superiority to
temptation. There is little of which I can boast; but that little I
derived, instrumentally, from Constantia. Poor as my attainments are, it
is to her that I am indebted for them all. Life itself was the gift of
her father, but my virtue and felicity are her gifts. That I am neither
indigent nor profligate, flows from her bounty.

I am not unaware of the divine superintendence,--of the claims upon my
gratitude and service which pertain to my God. I know that all physical
and moral agents are merely instrumental to the purpose that he wills;
but, though the great Author of being and felicity must not be
forgotten, it is neither possible nor just to overlook the claims upon
our love with which our fellow-beings are invested.

The supreme love does not absorb, but chastens and enforces, all
subordinate affections. In proportion to the rectitude of my perceptions
and the ardour of my piety, must I clearly discern and fervently love
the excellence discovered in my fellow-beings, and industriously promote
their improvement and felicity.

From my infancy to my seventeenth year, I lived in the house of Mr.
Dudley. On the day of my birth I was deserted by my mother. Her temper
was more akin to that of tigress than woman. Yet that is unjust; for
beasts cherish their offspring. No natures but human are capable of that
depravity which makes insensible to the claims of innocence and
helplessness.

But let me not recall her to memory. Have I not enough of sorrow? Yet to
omit my causes of disquiet, the unprecedented forlornness of my
condition, and the persecutions of an unnatural parent, would be to
leave my character a problem, and the sources of my love of Miss Dudley
unexplored. Yet I must not dwell upon that complication of iniquities,
that savage ferocity and unextinguishable hatred of me, which
characterized my unhappy mother.

I was not safe under the protection of Mr. Dudley, nor happy in the
caresses of his daughter. My mother asserted the privilege of that
relation: she laboured for years to obtain the control of my person and
actions, to snatch me from a peaceful and chaste asylum, and detain me
in her own house, where, indeed, I should not have been in want of
raiment and food; but where--

O my mother! Let me not dishonour thy name! Yet it is not in my power to
enhance thy infamy. Thy crimes, unequalled as they were, were perhaps
expiated by thy penitence. Thy offences are too well known; but perhaps
they who witnessed thy freaks of intoxication, thy defiance of public
shame, the enormity of thy pollutions, the infatuation that made thee
glory in the pursuit of a loathsome and detestable trade, may be
strangers to the remorse and the abstinence which accompanied the close
of thy ignominious life.

For ten years was my peace incessantly molested by the menaces or
machinations of my mother. The longer she meditated my destruction, the
more tenacious of her purpose and indefatigable in her efforts she
became. That my mind was harassed with perpetual alarms was not enough.
The fame and tranquillity of Mr. Dudley and his daughter were hourly
assailed. My mother resigned herself to the impulses of malignity and
rage. Headlong passions, and a vigorous though perverted understanding,
were hers. Hence, her stratagems to undermine the reputation of my
protector, and to bereave him of domestic comfort, were subtle and
profound. Had she not herself been careless of that good which she
endeavoured to wrest from others, her artifices could scarcely have been
frustrated.

In proportion to the hazard which accrued to my protector and friend,
the more ardent their zeal in my defence and their affection for my
person became. They watched over me with ineffable solicitude. At all
hours and in every occupation, I was the companion of Constantia. All my
wants were supplied in the same proportion as hers. The tenderness of
Mr. Dudley seemed equally divided between us. I partook of his
instructions, and the means of every intellectual and personal
gratification were lavished upon me.

The speed of my mother's career in infamy was at length slackened. She
left New York, which had long been the theatre of her vices. Actuated by
a now caprice, she determined to travel through the Southern States.
Early indulgence was the cause of her ruin, but her parents had given
her the embellishments of a fashionable education. She delighted to
assume all parts, and personate the most opposite characters. She now
resolved to carry a new name, and the mask of virtue, into scenes
hitherto unvisited.

She journeyed as far as Charleston. Here she met an inexperienced youth,
lately arrived from England, and in possession of an ample fortune. Her
speciousness and artifices seduced him into a precipitate marriage. Her
true character, however, could not be long concealed by herself, and her
vices had been too conspicuous for her long to escape recognition. Her
husband was infatuated by her blandishments. To abandon her, or to
contemplate her depravity with unconcern, were equally beyond his power.
Romantic in his sentiments, his fortitude was unequal to his
disappointments, and he speedily sunk into the grave. By a similar
refinement in generosity, he bequeathed to her his property.

With this accession of wealth, she returned to her ancient abode. The
mask lately worn seemed preparing to be thrown aside, and her profligate
habits to be resumed with more eagerness than ever; but an unexpected
and total revolution was effected, by the exhortations of a Methodist
divine. Her heart seemed, on a sudden, to be remoulded, her vices and
the abettors of them were abjured, she shut out the intrusions of
society, and prepared to expiate, by the rigours of abstinence and the
bitterness of tears, the offences of her past life.

In this, as in her former career, she was unacquainted with restraint
and moderation. Her remorses gained strength in proportion as she
cherished them. She brooded over the images of her guilt, till the
possibility of forgiveness and remission disappeared. Her treatment of
her daughter and her husband constituted the chief source of her
torment. Her awakened conscience refused her a momentary respite from
its persecutions. Her thoughts became, by rapid degrees, tempestuous and
gloomy, and it was at length evident that her condition was maniacal.

In this state, she was to me an object, no longer of terror, but
compassion. She was surrounded by hirelings, devoid of personal
attachment, and anxious only to convert her misfortunes to their own
advantage. This evil it was my duty to obviate. My presence, for a time,
only enhanced the vehemence of her malady; but at length it was only by
my attendance and soothing that she was diverted from the fellest
purposes. Shocking execrations and outrages, resolutions and efforts to
destroy herself and those around her, were sure to take place in my
absence. The moment I appeared before her, her fury abated, her
gesticulations were becalmed, and her voice exerted only in incoherent
and pathetic lamentations.

These scenes, though so different from those which I had formerly been
condemned to witness, were scarcely less excruciating. The friendship of
Constantia Dudley was my only consolation. She took up her abode with
me, and shared with me every disgustful and perilous office which my
mother's insanity prescribed.

Of this consolation, however, it was my fate to be bereaved. My mother's
state was deplorable, and no remedy hitherto employed was efficacious. A
voyage to England was conceived likely to benefit, by change of
temperature and scenes, and by the opportunity it would afford of trying
the superior skill of English physicians. This scheme, after various
struggles on my part, was adopted. It was detestable to my imagination,
because it severed me from that friend in whose existence mine was
involved, and without whose participation knowledge lost its attractions
and society became a torment.

The prescriptions of my duty could not be disguised or disobeyed, and we
parted. A mutual engagement was formed to record every sentiment and
relate every event that happened in the life of either, and no
opportunity of communicating information was to be omitted. This
engagement was punctually performed on my part. I sought out every
method of conveyance to my friend, and took infinite pains to procure
tidings from her; but all were ineffectual.

My mother's malady declined, but was succeeded by a pulmonary disease,
which threatened her speedy destruction. By the restoration of her
understanding, the purpose of her voyage was obtained, and my impatience
to return, which the inexplicable and ominous silence of my friend daily
increased, prompted me to exert all my powers of persuasion to induce
her to revisit America.

My mother's frenzy was a salutary crisis in her moral history. She
looked back upon her past conduct with unspeakable loathing, but this
retrospect only invigorated her devotion and her virtue; but the thought
of returning to the scene of her unhappiness and infamy could not be
endured. Besides, life, in her eyes, possessed considerable attractions,
and her physicians flattered her with recovery from her present disease,
if she would change the atmosphere of England for that of Languedoc and
Naples.

I followed her with murmurs and reluctance. To desert her in her present
critical state would have been inhuman. My mother's aversions and
attachments, habits and views, were dissonant with my own. Conformity of
sentiments and impressions of maternal tenderness did not exist to bind
us to each other. My attendance was assiduous, but it was the sense of
duty that rendered my attendance a supportable task.

Her decay was eminently gradual. No time seemed to diminish her appetite
for novelty and change. During three years we traversed every part of
France, Switzerland, and Italy. I could not but attend to surrounding
scenes, and mark the progress of the mighty revolution, whose effects,
like agitation in a fluid, gradually spread from Paris, the centre, over
the face of the neighbouring kingdoms; but there passed not a day or an
hour in which the image of Constantia was not recalled, in which the
most pungent regrets were not felt at the inexplicable silence which had
been observed by her, and the most vehement longings indulged to return
to my native country. My exertions to ascertain her condition by
indirect means, by interrogating natives of America with whom I chanced
to meet, were unwearied, but, for a long period, ineffectual.

During this pilgrimage, Rome was thrice visited. My mother's
indisposition was hastening to a crisis, and she formed the resolution
of closing her life at the bottom of Vesuvius. We stopped, for the sake
of a few days' repose, at Rome. On the morning after our arrival, I
accompanied some friends to view the public edifices. Casting my eyes
over the vast and ruinous interior of the Coliseum, my attention was
fixed by the figure of a young man whom, after a moment's pause, I
recollected to have seen in the streets of New York. At a distance from
home, mere community of country is no inconsiderable bond of affection.
The social spirit prompts us to cling even to inanimate objects, when
they remind us of ancient fellowships and juvenile attachments.

A servant was despatched to summon this stranger, who recognised a
countrywoman with a pleasure equal to that which I had received. On
nearer view, this person, whose name was Courtland, did not belie my
favourable prepossessions. Our intercourse was soon established on a
footing of confidence and intimacy.

The destiny of Constantia was always uppermost in my thoughts. This
person's acquaintance was originally sought chiefly in the hope of
obtaining from him some information respecting my friend. On inquiry, I
discovered that he had left his native city seven months after me.
Having tasked his recollection and compared a number of facts, the name
of Dudley at length recurred to him. He had casually heard the history
of Craig's imposture and its consequences. These were now related as
circumstantially as a memory occupied by subsequent incidents enabled
him. The tale had been told to him, in a domestic circle which he was
accustomed to frequent, by the person who purchased Mr. Dudley's lute
and restored it to its previous owner on the conditions formerly
mentioned.

This tale filled me with anguish and doubt. My impatience to search out
this unfortunate girl, and share with her her sorrows or relieve them,
was anew excited by this mournful intelligence. That Constantia Dudley
was reduced to beggary was too abhorrent to my feelings to receive
credit; yet the sale of her father's property, comprising even his
furniture and clothing, seemed to prove that she had fallen even to this
depth. This enabled me in some degree to account for her silence. Her
generous spirit would induce her to conceal misfortunes from her friend
which no communication would alleviate. It was possible that she had
selected some new abode, and that, in consequence, the letters I had
written, and which amounted to volumes, had never reached her hands.

My mother's state would not suffer me to obey the impulse of my heart.
Her frame was verging towards dissolution. Courtland's engagements
allowed him to accompany us to Naples, and here the long series of my
mother's pilgrimages closed in death. Her obsequies were no sooner
performed, than I determined to set out on my long-projected voyage. My
mother's property, which, in consequence of her decease, devolved upon
me, was not inconsiderable. There is scarcely any good so dear to a
rational being as competence. I was not unacquainted with its benefits,
but this acquisition was valuable to mo chiefly as it enabled me to
reunite my fate to that of Constantia.

Courtland was my countryman and friend. He was destitute of fortune, and
had been led to Europe partly by the spirit of adventure, and partly on
a mercantile project. He had made sale of his property on advantageous
terms, in the ports of France, and resolved to consume the produce in
examining this scene of heroic exploits and memorable revolutions. His
slender stock, though frugally and even parsimoniously administered, was
nearly exhausted; and, at the time of our meeting at Rome, he was making
reluctant preparations to return.

Sufficient opportunity was afforded us, in an unrestrained and domestic
intercourse of three months, which succeeded our Roman interview, to
gain a knowledge of each other. There was that conformity of tastes and
views between us which could scarcely fail, at an age and in a situation
like ours, to give birth to tenderness. My resolution to hasten to
America was peculiarly unwelcome to my friend. He had offered to be my
companion, but this offer my regard to his interest obliged me to
decline; but I was willing to compensate him for this denial, as well as
to gratify my own heart, by an immediate marriage.

So long a residence in England and Italy had given birth to friendships
and connections of the dearest kind. I had no view but to spend my life
with Courtland, in the midst of my maternal kindred, who were English. A
voyage to America and reunion with Constantia were previously
indispensable; but I hoped that my friend might be prevailed upon, and
that her disconnected situation would permit her to return with me to
Europe. If this end could not be accomplished, it was my inflexible
purpose to live and die with her. Suitably to this arrangement,
Courtland was to repair to London, and wait patiently till I should be
able to rejoin him there, or to summon him to meet me in America.

A week after my mother's death, I became a wife, and embarked the next
day, at Naples, in a Ragusan ship, destined for New York. The voyage was
tempestuous and tedious. The vessel was necessitated to make a short
stay at Toulon. The state of that city, however, then in possession of
the English and besieged by the revolutionary forces, was adverse to
commercial views. Happily, we resumed our voyage on the day previous to
that on which the place was evacuated by the British. Our seasonable
departure rescued us from witnessing a scene of horrors of which the
history of former wars furnishes us with few examples.

A cold and boisterous navigation awaited us. My palpitations and
inquietudes augmented as we approached the American coast. I shall not
forget the sensations which I experienced on the sight of the Beacon at
Sandy Hook. It was first seen at midnight, in a stormy and beclouded
atmosphere, emerging from the waves, whose fluctuation allowed it, for
some time, to be visible only by fits. This token of approaching land
affected me as much as if I had reached the threshold of my friend's
dwelling.

At length we entered the port, and I viewed, with high-raised but
inexplicable feelings, objects with which I had been from infancy
familiar. The flagstaff erected on the Battery recalled to my
imagination the pleasures of the evening and morning walks which I had
taken on that spot with the lost Constantia. The dream was fondly
cherished, that the figure which I saw loitering along the terrace was
hers.

On disembarking, I gazed at every female passenger, in hope that it was
she whom I sought. An absence of three years had obliterated from my
memory none of the images which attended me on my departure.



CHAPTER V.


After a night of repose rather than of sleep, I began the search after
my friend. I went to the house which the Dudleys formerly inhabited, and
which had been the asylum of my infancy. It was now occupied by
strangers, by whom no account could be given of its former tenants. I
obtained directions to the owner of the house. He was equally unable to
satisfy my curiosity. The purchase had been made at a public sale, and
terms had been settled, not with Dudley, but with the sheriff.

It is needless to say that the history of Craig's imposture and its
consequences were confirmed by every one who resided at that period in
New York. The Dudleys were well remembered, and their disappearance,
immediately after their fall, had been generally noticed; but whither
they had retired was a problem which no one was able to solve.

This evasion was strange. By what motives the Dudleys were induced to
change their ancient abode could be vaguely guessed. My friend's
grandfather was a native of the West Indies. Descendants of the same
stock still resided in Tobago. They might be affluent, and to them it
was possible that Mr. Dudley, in this change of fortune, had betaken
himself for relief. This was a mournful expedient, since it would raise
a barrier between my friend and myself scarcely to be surmounted.

Constantia's mother was stolen by Mr. Dudley from a convent at Amiens.
There were no affinities, therefore, to draw them to France. Her
grandmother was a native of Baltimore, of a family of some note, by name
Ridgeley. This family might still exist, and have either afforded an
asylum to the Dudleys, or, at least, be apprized of their destiny. It
was obvious to conclude that they no longer existed within the precincts
of New York. A journey to Baltimore was the next expedient.

This journey was made in the depth of winter, and by the speediest
conveyance. I made no more than a day's sojourn in Philadelphia. The
epidemic by which that city had been lately ravaged, I had not heard of
till my arrival in America. Its devastations were then painted to my
fancy in the most formidable colours. A few months only had elapsed
since its extinction, and I expected to see numerous marks of misery and
depopulation.

To my no small surprise, however, no vestiges of this calamity were to
be discerned. All houses were open, all streets thronged, and all faces
thoughtless or busy. The arts and the amusements of life seemed as
sedulously cultivated as ever. Little did I then think what had been,
and what at that moment was, the condition of my friend. I stopped for
the sake of respite from fatigue, and did not, therefore, pass much time
in the streets. Perhaps, had I walked seasonably abroad, we might have
encountered each other, and thus have saved ourselves from a thousand
anxieties.

At Baltimore I made myself known, without the formality of introduction,
to the Ridgeleys. They acknowledged their relationship to Mr. Dudley,
but professed absolute ignorance of his fate. Indirect intercourse only
had been maintained, formerly, by Dudley with his mother's kindred. They
had heard of his misfortune a twelvemonth after it happened; but what
measures had been subsequently pursued, their kinsman had not thought
proper to inform them.

The failure of this expedient almost bereft me of hope. Neither my own
imagination nor the Ridgeleys could suggest any new mode by which my
purpose was likely to be accomplished. To leave America without
obtaining the end of my visit could not be thought of without agony; and
yet the continuance of my stay promised me no relief from my
uncertainties.

On this theme I ruminated without ceasing. I recalled every conversation
and incident of former times, and sought in them a clue by which my
present conjectures might be guided. One night, immersed alone in my
chamber, my thoughts were thus employed. My train of meditation was, on
this occasion, new. From the review of particulars from which no
satisfaction had hitherto been gained, I passed to a vague and
comprehensive retrospect.

Mr. Dudley's early life, his profession of a painter, his zeal in this
pursuit, and his reluctance to quit it, were remembered. Would he not
revert to this profession when other means of subsistence were gone? It
is true, similar obstacles with those which had formerly occasioned his
resort to a different path existed at present, and no painter of his
name was to be found in Philadelphia, Baltimore, or New York. But would
it not occur to him, that the patronage denied to his skill by the
frugal and unpolished habits of his countrymen might, with more
probability of success, be sought from the opulence and luxury of
London? Nay, had he not once affirmed, in my hearing, that, if he ever
were reduced to poverty, this was the method he would pursue?

This conjecture was too bewitching to be easily dismissed. Every new
reflection augmented its force. I was suddenly raised by it from the
deepest melancholy to the region of lofty and gay hopes. Happiness, of
which I had begun to imagine myself irretrievably bereft, seemed once
more to approach within my reach. Constantia would not only be found,
but be met in the midst of those comforts which her father's skill could
not fail to procure, and on that very stage where I most desired to
encounter her. Mr. Dudley had many friends and associates of his youth
in London. Filial duty had repelled their importunities to fix his abode
in Europe, when summoned home by his father. On his father's death these
solicitations had been renewed, but were disregarded for reasons which
he, afterwards, himself confessed were fallacious. That they would a
third time be preferred, and would regulate his conduct, seemed to me
incontestable.

I regarded with wonder and deep regret the infatuation that had
hitherto excluded these images from my understanding and my memory. How
many dangers and toils had I endured since my embarkation at Naples, to
the present moment! How many lingering minutes had I told since my first
interview with Courtland! All were owing to my own stupidity. Had my
present thoughts been seasonably suggested, I might long since have been
restored to the embraces of my friend, without the necessity of an
hour's separation from my husband.

These were evils to be repaired as far as it was possible. Nothing now
remained but to procure a passage to Europe. For this end diligent
inquiries were immediately set on foot. A vessel was found, which, in a
few weeks, would set out upon the voyage. Having bespoken a conveyance,
it was incumbent on me to sustain with patience the unwelcome delay.

Meanwhile, my mind, delivered from the dejection and perplexities that
lately haunted it, was capable of some attention to surrounding objects.
I marked the peculiarities of manners and language in my new abode, and
studied the effects which a political and religious system so opposite
to that with which I had conversed in Italy and Switzerland had
produced. I found that the difference between Europe and America lay
chiefly in this:--that, in the former, all things tended to extremes,
whereas, in the latter, all things tended to the same level. Genius, and
virtue, and happiness, on these shores, were distinguished by a sort of
mediocrity. Conditions were less unequal, and men were strangers to the
heights of enjoyment and the depths of misery to which the inhabitants
of Europe are accustomed.

I received friendly notice and hospitable treatment from the Ridgeleys.
These people were mercantile and plodding in their habits. I found in
their social circle little exercise for the sympathies of my heart, and
willingly accepted their aid to enlarge the sphere of my observation.

About a week before my intended embarkation, and when suitable
preparation had been made for that event, a lady arrived in town, who
was cousin to my Constantia. She had frequently been mentioned in
favourable terms in my hearing. She had passed her life in a rural
abode with her father, who cultivated his own domain, lying forty miles
from Baltimore.

On an offer being made to introduce us to each other, I consented to
know one whose chief recommendation in my eyes consisted in her affinity
to Constantia Dudley. I found an artless and attractive female,
unpolished and undepraved by much intercourse with mankind. At first
sight, I was powerfully struck by the resemblance of her features to
those of my friend, which sufficiently denoted their connection with a
common stock.

The first interview afforded mutual satisfaction. On our second meeting,
discourse insensibly led to the mention of Miss Dudley, and of the
design which had brought me to America. She was deeply affected by the
earnestness with which I expatiated on her cousin's merits, and by the
proofs which my conduct had given of unlimited attachment.

I dwelt immediately on the measures which I had hitherto ineffectually
pursued to trace her footsteps, and detailed the grounds of my present
belief that we should meet in London. During this recital, my companion
sighed and wept. When I finished my tale, her tears, instead of ceasing,
flowed with new vehemence. This appearance excited some surprise, and I
ventured to ask the cause of her grief.

"Alas!" she replied, "I am personally a stranger to my cousin, but her
character has been amply displayed to me by one who knew her well. I
weep to think how much she has suffered. How much excellence we have
lost!"

"Nay," said I, "all her sufferings will, I hope, be compensated, and I
by no means consider her as lost. If my search in London be
unsuccessful, then shall I indeed despair."

"Despair, then, already," said my sobbing companion, "for your search
will be unsuccessful. How I feel for your disappointment! but it cannot
be known too soon. My cousin is dead!"

These tidings were communicated with tokens of sincerity and sorrow that
left me no room to doubt that they were believed by the relater. My own
emotions were suspended till interrogations had obtained a knowledge of
her reasons for crediting this fatal event, and till she had explained
the time and manner of her death. A friend of Miss Ridgeley's father had
witnessed the devastations of the yellow fever in Philadelphia. He was
apprized of the relationship that subsisted between his friend and the
Dudleys. He gave a minute and circumstantial account of the arts of
Craig. He mentioned the removal of my friends to Philadelphia, their
obscure and indigent life, and, finally, their falling victims to the
pestilence.

He related the means by which he became apprized of their fate, and drew
a picture of their death, surpassing all that imagination can conceive
of shocking and deplorable. The quarter where they lived was nearly
desolate. Their house was shut up, and, for a time, imagined to be
uninhabited. Some suspicions being awakened in those who superintended
the burial of the dead, the house was entered, and the father and child
discovered to be dead. The former was stretched upon his wretched
pallet, while the daughter was found on the floor of the lower room, in
a state that denoted the sufferance not only of disease, but of famine.

This tale was false. Subsequent discoveries proved this to be a
detestable artifice of Craig, who, stimulated by incurable habits, had
invented these disasters, for the purpose of enhancing the opinion of
his humanity and of furthering his views on the fortune and daughter of
Mr. Ridgeley.

Its falsehood, however, I had as yet no means of ascertaining. I
received it as true, and at once dismissed all my claims upon futurity.
All hope of happiness, in this mutable and sublunary scene, was fled.
Nothing remained but to join my friend in a world where woes are at an
end and virtue finds recompense. "Surely," said I, "there will some time
be a close to calamity and discord. To those whose lives have been
blameless, but harassed by inquietudes to which not their own but the
errors of others have given birth, a fortress will hereafter be
assigned unassailable by change, impregnable to sorrow.

"O my ill-fated Constantia! I will live to cherish thy remembrance, and
to emulate thy virtue. I will endure the privation of thy friendship and
the vicissitudes that shall befall me, and draw my consolation and
courage from the foresight of no distant close to this terrestrial
scene, and of ultimate and everlasting union with thee."

This consideration, though it kept me from confusion and despair, could
not, but with the healing aid of time, render me tranquil or strenuous.
My strength was unequal to the struggle of my passions. The ship in
which I engaged to embark could not wait for my restoration to health,
and I was left behind.

Mary Ridgeley was artless and affectionate. She saw that her society was
dearer to me than that of any other, and was therefore seldom willing to
leave my chamber. Her presence, less on her own account than by reason
of her personal resemblance and her affinity by birth to Constantia, was
a powerful solace.

I had nothing to detain me longer in America. I was anxious to change my
present lonely state, for the communion of those friends in England, and
the performance of those duties, which were left to me. I was informed
that a British packet would shortly sail from New York. My frame was
sunk into greater weakness than I had felt at any former period; and I
conceived that to return to New York by water was more commodious than
to perform the journey by land.

This arrangement was likewise destined to be disappointed. One morning I
visited, according to my custom, Mary Ridgeley. I found her in a temper
somewhat inclined to gayety. She rallied me, with great archness, on the
care with which I had concealed from her a tender engagement into which
I had lately entered.

I supposed myself to comprehend her allusion, and therefore answered
that accident, rather than design, had made me silent on the subject of
marriage. She had hitherto known me by no appellation but Sophia
Courtland. I had thought it needless to inform her that I was indebted
for my name to my husband, Courtland being his name.

"All that," said my friend, "I know already. And so you sagely think
that my knowledge goes no further than that? We are not bound to love
our husbands longer than their lives. There is no crime, I believe, in
referring the living to the dead; and most heartily do congratulate you
on your present choice."

"What mean you? I confess, your discourse surpasses my comprehension."

At that moment the bell at the door rung a loud peal. Miss Ridgeley
hastened down at this signal, saying, with much significance,--

"I am a poor hand at solving a riddle. Here comes one who, if I mistake
not, will find no difficulty in clearing up your doubts."

Presently she came up, and said, with a smile of still greater archness,
"Here is a young gentleman, a friend of mine, to whom I must have the
pleasure of introducing you. He has come for the special purpose of
solving my riddle." I attended her to the parlour without hesitation.

She presented me, with great formality, to a youth, whose appearance did
not greatly prepossess me in favour of his judgement. He approached me
with an air supercilious and ceremonious; but the moment he caught a
glance at my face, he shrunk back, visibly confounded and embarrassed. A
pause ensued, in which Miss Ridgeley had opportunity to detect the error
into which she had been led by the vanity of this young man.

"How now, Mr. Martynne!" said my friend, in a tone of ridicule; "is it
possible you do not know the lady who is the queen of your affections,
the tender and indulgent fair one whose portrait you carry in your
bosom, and whose image you daily and nightly bedew with your tears and
kisses?"

Mr. Martynne's confusion, instead of being subdued by his struggle, only
grew more conspicuous; and, after a few incoherent speeches and
apologies, during which he carefully avoided encountering my eyes, he
hastily departed.

I applied to my friend, with great earnestness, for an explanation of
this scene. It seems that, in the course of conversation with him on the
preceding day, he had suffered a portrait which hung at his breast to
catch Miss Ridgeley's eye. On her betraying a desire to inspect it more
nearly, he readily produced it. My image had been too well copied by the
artist not to be instantly recognised.

She concealed her knowledge of the original, and, by questions well
adapted to the purpose, easily drew from him confessions that this was
the portrait of his mistress. He let fall sundry innuendoes and
surmises, tending to impress her with a notion of the rank, fortune, and
intellectual accomplishments of the nymph, and particularly of the
doting fondness and measureless confidence with which she regarded him.

Her imperfect knowledge of my situation left her in some doubt as to the
truth of these pretensions, and she was willing to ascertain the truth
by bringing about an interview. To guard against evasions and artifice
in the lover, she carefully concealed from him her knowledge of the
original, and merely pretended that a friend of hers was far more
beautiful than her whom this picture represented. She added, that she
expected a visit from her friend the next morning, and was willing, by
showing her to Mr. Martynne, to convince him how much he was mistaken in
supposing the perfections of his mistress unrivalled.



CHAPTER VI.


Martynne, while ho expressed his confidence that the experiment would
only confirm his triumph, readily assented to the proposal, and the
interview above described took place, accordingly, the next morning. Had
he not been taken by surprise, it is likely the address of a man who
possessed no contemptible powers would have extricated him from some of
his embarrassment.

That my portrait should be in the possession of one whom I had never
before seen, and whose character and manners entitled him to no respect,
was a source of some surprise. This mode of multiplying faces is
extremely prevalent in this age, and was eminently characteristic of
those with whom I had associated in different parts of Europe. The
nature of my thoughts had modified my features into an expression which
my friends were pleased to consider as a model for those who desired to
personify the genius of suffering and resignation.

Hence, among those whose religion permitted their devotion to a picture
of a female, the symbols of their chosen deity were added to features
and shape that resembled mine. My own caprice, as well as that of
others, always dictated a symbolical, and, in every new instance, a
different accompaniment of this kind. Hence was offered the means of
tracing the history of that picture which Martynne possessed.

It had been accurately examined by Miss Ridgeley, and her description of
the frame in which it was placed instantly informed me that it was the
same which, at our parting, I left in the possession of Constantia. My
friend and myself were desirous of employing the skill of a Saxon
painter, by name Eckstein. Each of us were drawn by him, she with the
cincture of Venus, and I with the crescent of Dian. This symbol was
still conspicuous on the brow of that image which Miss Ridgeley had
examined, and served to identify the original proprietor.

This circumstance tended to confirm my fears that Constantia was dead,
since that she would part with this picture during her life was not to
be believed. It was of little moment to discover how it came into the
hands of the present possessor. Those who carried her remains to the
grave had probably torn it from her neck and afterwards disposed of it
for money.

By whatever means, honest or illicit, it had been acquired by Martynne,
it was proper that it should be restored to me. It was valuable to me,
because it had been the property of one whom I loved, and it might prove
highly injurious to my fame and my happiness, as the tool of this man's
vanity and the attestor of his falsehood. I therefore wrote him a
letter, acquainting him with my reasons for desiring the repossession of
this picture, and offering a price for it at least double its value as a
mere article of traffic. Martynne accepted the terms. He transmitted the
picture, and with it a note, apologizing for the artifice of which he
had been guilty, and mentioning, in order to justify his acceptance of
the price which I had offered, that he had lately purchased it for an
equal sum, of a goldsmith in Philadelphia.

This information suggested a new reflection. Constantia had engaged to
preserve, for the use of her friend, copious and accurate memorials of
her life. Copies of these were, on suitable occasions, to be transmitted
to me during my residence abroad. These I had never received, but it was
highly probable that her punctuality, in the performance of the first
part of her engagement, had been equal to my own.

What, I asked, had become of these precious memorials? In the wreck of
her property were these irretrievably engulfed? It was not probable that
they had been wantonly destroyed. They had fallen, perhaps, into hands
careless or unconscious of their value, or still lay, unknown and
neglected, at the bottom of some closet or chest. Their recovery might
be effected by vehement exertions, or by some miraculous accident.
Suitable inquiries, carried on among those who were active in those
scenes of calamity, might afford some clue by which the fate of the
Dudleys, and the disposition of their property, might come into fuller
light. These inquiries could be made only in Philadelphia, and thither,
for that purpose, I now resolved to repair. There was still an interval
of some weeks before the departure of the packet in which I proposed to
embark.

Having returned to the capital, I devoted all my zeal to my darling
project. My efforts, however, were without success. Those who
administered charity and succour during that memorable season, and who
survived, could remove none of my doubts, nor answer any of my
inquiries. Innumerable tales, equally disastrous with those which Miss
Ridgeley had heard, were related; but, for a considerable period, none
of their circumstances were sufficiently accordant with the history of
the Dudleys.

It is worthy of remark, in how many ways, and by what complexity of
motives, human curiosity is awakened and knowledge obtained. By its
connection with my darling purpose, every event in the history of this
memorable pest was earnestly sought and deeply pondered. The powerful
considerations which governed me made me slight those punctilious
impediments which, in other circumstances, would have debarred me from
intercourse with the immediate actors and observers. I found none who
were unwilling to expatiate on this topic, or to communicate the
knowledge they possessed. Their details were copious in particulars and
vivid in minuteness. They exhibited the state of manners, the
diversified effects of evil or heroic passions, and the endless forms
which sickness and poverty assume in the obscure recesses of a
commercial and populous city.

Some of these details are too precious to be lost. It is above all
things necessary that we should be thoroughly acquainted with the
condition of our fellow-beings. Justice and compassion are the fruit of
knowledge. The misery that overspreads so large a part of mankind exists
chiefly because those who are able to relieve it do not know that it
exists. Forcibly to paint the evil, seldom fails to excite the virtue of
the spectator and seduce him into wishes, at least, if not into
exertions, of beneficence.

The circumstances in which I was placed were, perhaps, wholly singular.
Hence, the knowledge I obtained was more comprehensive and authentic
than was possessed by any one, even of the immediate actors or
sufferers. This knowledge will not be useless to myself or to the world.
The motives which dictated the present narrative will hinder me from
relinquishing the pen till my fund of observation and experience be
exhausted. Meanwhile, let me resume the thread of my tale.

The period allowed me before my departure was nearly expired, and my
purpose seemed to be as far from its accomplishment as ever. One evening
I visited a lady who was the widow of a physician whose disinterested
exertions had cost him his life. She dwelt with pathetic earnestness on
the particulars of her own distress, and listened with deep attention to
the inquiries and doubts which I had laid before her.

After a pause of consideration, she said that an incident like that
related by me she had previously heard from one of her friends, whose
name she mentioned. This person was one of those whose office consisted
in searching out the sufferers, and affording them unsought and
unsolicited relief. She was offering to introduce me to this person,
when he entered the apartment.

After the usual compliments, my friend led the conversation as I wished.
Between Mr. Thompson's tale and that related to Miss Ridgeley there was
an obvious resemblance. The sufferers resided in an obscure alley. They
had shut themselves up from all intercourse with their neighbours, and
had died, neglected and unknown. Mr. Thompson was vested with the
superintendence of this district, and had passed the house frequently
without suspicion of its being tenanted.

He was at length informed, by one of those who conducted a hearse, that
he had seen the window in the upper story of this house lifted and a
female show herself. It was night, and the hearseman chanced to be
passing the door. He immediately supposed that the person stood in need
of his services, and stopped.

This procedure was comprehended by the person at the window, who,
leaning out, addressed him in a broken and feeble voice. She asked him
why he had not taken a different route, and upbraided him for inhumanity
in leading his noisy vehicle past her door. She wanted repose, but the
ceaseless rumbling of his wheels would not allow her the sweet respite
of a moment.

This invective was singular, and uttered in a voice which united the
utmost degree of earnestness with a feebleness that rendered it almost
inarticulate. The man was at a loss for a suitable answer. His pause
only increased the impatience of the person at the window, who called
upon him, in a still more anxious tone, to proceed, and entreated him to
avoid this alley for the future.

He answered that he must come whenever the occasion called him; that
three persons now lay dead in this alley, and that he must be
expeditious in their removal; but that he would return as seldom and
make as little noise as possible.

He was interrupted by new exclamations and upbraidings. These terminated
in a burst of tears, and assertions that God and man were her
enemies,--that they were determined to destroy her; but she trusted that
the time would come when their own experience would avenge her wrongs,
and teach them some compassion for the misery of others. Saying this,
she shut the window with violence, and retired from it, sobbing with a
vehemence that could be distinctly overheard by him in the street.

He paused for some time, listening when this passion should cease. The
habitation was slight, and he imagined that he heard her traversing the
floor. While he stayed, she continued to vent her anguish in
exclamations and sighs and passionate weeping. It did not appear that
any other person was within.

Mr. Thompson, being next day informed of these incidents, endeavoured to
enter the house; but his signals, though loud and frequently repeated,
being unnoticed, he was obliged to gain admission by violence. An old
man, and a female lovely in the midst of emaciation and decay, were
discovered without signs of life. The death of the latter appeared to
have been very recent.

In examining the house, no traces of other inhabitants were to be found.
Nothing serviceable as food was discovered, but the remnants of mouldy
bread scattered on a table. No information could be gathered from
neighbours respecting the condition and name of these unfortunate
people. They had taken possession of this house during the rage of this
malady, and refrained from all communication with their neighbours.

There was too much resemblance between this and the story formerly
heard, not to produce the belief that they related to the same persons.
All that remained was to obtain directions to the proprietor of this
dwelling, and exact from him all that he knew respecting his tenants.

I found in him a man of worth and affability. He readily related, that a
man applied to him for the use of this house, and that the application
was received. At the beginning of the pestilence, a numerous family
inhabited this tenement, but had died in rapid succession. This new
applicant was the first to apprize him of this circumstance, and
appeared extremely anxious to enter on immediate possession.

It was intimated to him that danger would arise from the pestilential
condition of the house. Unless cleansed and purified, disease would be
unavoidably contracted. The inconvenience and hazard this applicant was
willing to encounter, and, at length, hinted that no alternative was
allowed him by his present landlord but to lie in the street or to
procure some other abode.

"What was the external appearance of this person?"

"He was infirm, past the middle age, of melancholy aspect and indigent
garb. A year had since elapsed, and more characteristic particulars had
not been remarked, or were forgotten. The name had been mentioned, but,
in the midst of more recent and momentous transactions, had vanished
from remembrance. Dudley, or Dolby, or Hadley, seemed to approach more
nearly than any other sounds."

Permission to inspect the house was readily granted. It had remained,
since that period, unoccupied. The furniture and goods were scanty and
wretched, and he did not care to endanger his safety by meddling with
them. He believed that they had not been removed or touched.

I was insensible of any hazard which attended my visit, and, with the
guidance of a servant, who felt as little apprehension as myself,
hastened to the spot. I found nothing but tables and chairs. Clothing
was nowhere to be seen. An earthen pot, without handle, and broken,
stood upon the kitchen-hearth. No other implement or vessel for the
preparation of food appeared.

These forlorn appearances were accounted for by the servant, by
supposing the house to have been long since rifled of every thing worth
the trouble of removal, by the villains who occupied the neighbouring
houses,--this alley, it seems, being noted for the profligacy of its
inhabitants.

When I reflected that a wretched hovel like this had been, probably, the
last retreat of the Dudleys, when I painted their sufferings, of which
the numberless tales of distress of which I had lately been an auditor
enabled me to form an adequate conception, I felt as if to lie down and
expire on the very spot where Constantia had fallen was the only
sacrifice to friendship which time had left to me.

From this house I wandered to the field where the dead had been,
promiscuously and by hundreds, interred. I counted the long series of
graves, which were closely ranged, and, being recently levelled,
exhibited the appearance of a harrowed field. Methought I could have
given thousands to know in what spot the body of my friend lay, that I
might moisten the sacred earth with my tears. Boards hastily nailed
together formed the best receptacle which the exigencies of the time
could grant to the dead. Many corpses were thrown into a single
excavation, and all distinctions founded on merit and rank were
obliterated. The father and child had been placed in the same cart and
thrown into the same hole.

Despairing, by any longer stay in the city, to effect my purpose, and
the period of my embarkation being near, I prepared to resume my
journey. I should have set out the next day, but, a family with whom I
had made acquaintance expecting to proceed to New York within a week, I
consented to be their companion, and, for that end, to delay my
departure.

Meanwhile, I shut myself up in my apartment, and pursued avocations that
were adapted to the melancholy tenor of my thoughts. The day preceding
that appointed for my journey arrived. It was necessary to complete my
arrangements with the family with whom I was to travel, and to settle
with the lady whose apartments I occupied.

On how slender threads does our destiny hang! Had not a momentary
impulse tempted me to sing my favourite ditty to the harpsichord, to
beguile the short interval during which my hostess was conversing with
her visitor in the next apartment, I should have speeded to New York,
have embarked for Europe, and been eternally severed from my friend,
whom I believed to have died in frenzy and beggary, but who was alive
and affluent, and who sought me with a diligence scarcely inferior to my
own. We imagined ourselves severed from each other by death or by
impassable seas; but, at the moment when our hopes had sunk to the
lowest ebb, a mysterious destiny conducted our footsteps to the same
spot.

I heard a murmuring exclamation; I heard my hostess call, in a voice of
terror, for help; I rushed into the room; I saw one stretched on the
floor, in the attitude of death; I sprung forward and fixed my eyes upon
her countenance; I clasped my hands and articulated, "Constantia!"

She speedily recovered from her swoon. Her eyes opened; she moved, she
spoke. Still methought it was an illusion of the senses that created the
phantom. I could not bear to withdraw my eyes from her countenance. If
they wandered for a moment, I fell into doubt and perplexity, and again
fixed them upon her, to assure myself of her existence.

The succeeding three days were spent in a state of dizziness and
intoxication. The ordinary functions of nature were disturbed. The
appetite for sleep and for food were confounded and lost amidst the
impetuosities of a master-passion. To look and to talk to each other
afforded enchanting occupation for every moment. I would not part from
her side, but eat and slept, walked and mused and read, with my arm
locked in hers, and with her breath fanning my cheek.

I have indeed much to learn. Sophia Courtland has never been wise. Her
affections disdain the cold dictates of discretion, and spurn at every
limit that contending duties and mixed obligations prescribe.

And yet, O precious inebriation of the heart! O pre-eminent love! what
pleasure of reason or of sense can stand in competition with those
attendant upon thee? Whether thou hiest to the fanes of a benevolent
deity, or layest all thy homage at the feet of one who most visibly
resembles the perfections of our Maker, surely thy sanction is divine,
thy boon is happiness!



CHAPTER VII.


The tumults of curiosity and pleasure did not speedily subside. The
story of each other's wanderings was told with endless amplification and
minuteness. Henceforth, the stream of our existence was to mix; we were
to act and to think in common; casual witnesses and written testimony
should become superfluous. Eyes and ears were to be eternally employed
upon the conduct of each other; death, when it should come, was not to
be deplored, because it was an unavoidable and brief privation to her
that should survive. Being, under any modification, is dear; but that
state to which death is a passage is all-desirable to virtue and
all-compensating to grief.

Meanwhile, precedent events were made the themes of endless
conversation. Every incident and passion in the course of four years was
revived and exhibited. The name of Ormond was, of course, frequently
repeated by my friend. His features and deportment were described; her
meditations and resolutions, with regard to him, fully disclosed. My
counsel was asked, in what manner it became her to act.

I could not but harbour aversion to a scheme which should tend to sever
me from Constantia, or to give me a competitor in her affections.
Besides this, the properties of Ormond were of too mysterious a nature
to make him worthy of acceptance. Little more was known concerning him
than what he himself had disclosed to the Dudleys, but this knowledge
would suffice to invalidate his claims.

He had dwelt, in his conversations with Constantia, sparingly on his own
concerns. Yet he did not hide from her that he had been left in early
youth to his own guidance; that he had embraced, when almost a child,
the trade of arms; that he had found service and promotion in the armies
of Potemkin and Romanzow; that he had executed secret and diplomatic
functions at Constantinople and Berlin; that in the latter city he had
met with schemers and reasoners who aimed at the new-modelling of the
world, and the subversion of all that has hitherto been conceived
elementary and fundamental in the constitution of man and of government;
that some of those reformers had secretly united to break down the
military and monarchical fabric of German policy; that others, more
wisely, had devoted their secret efforts, not to overturn, but to build;
that, for this end, they embraced an exploring and colonizing project;
that he had allied himself to these, and for the promotion of their
projects had spent six years of his life in journeys by sea and land, in
tracts unfrequented till then by any European.

What were the moral or political maxims which this adventurous and
visionary sect had adopted, and what was the seat of their new-born
empire,--whether on the shore of an _austral_ continent, or in the heart
of desert America,--he carefully concealed. These were exhibited or
hidden, or shifted, according to his purpose. Not to reveal too much,
and not to tire curiosity or overtask belief, was his daily labour. He
talked of alliance with the family whose name he bore, and who had lost
their honours and estates by the Hanoverian succession to the crown of
England.

I had seen too much of innovation and imposture, in, France and Italy,
not to regard a man like this with aversion and fear. The mind of my
friend was wavering and unsuspicious. She had lived at a distance from
scenes where principles are hourly put to the test of experiment; where
all extremes of fortitude and pusillanimity are accustomed to meet;
where recluse virtue and speculative heroism gives place, as if by
magic, to the last excesses of debauchery and wickedness; where pillage
and murder are engrafted on systems of all-embracing and self-oblivious
benevolence, and the good of mankind is professed to be pursued with
bonds of association and covenants of secrecy. Hence, my friend had
decided without the sanction of experience, had allowed herself to
wander into untried paths, and had hearkened to positions pregnant with
destruction and ignominy.

It was not difficult to exhibit in their true light the enormous errors
of this man, and the danger of prolonging their intercourse. Her assent
to accompany me to England was readily obtained. Too much despatch could
not be used; but the disposal of her property must first take place.
This was necessarily productive of some delay.

I had been made, contrary to inclination, expert in the management of
all affairs relative to property. My mother's lunacy, subsequent
disease, and death, had imposed upon me obligations and cares little
suitable to my sex and age. They could not be eluded or transferred to
others; and, by degrees, experience enlarged my knowledge and
familiarized my tasks.

It was agreed that I should visit and inspect my friend's estate in
Jersey, while she remained in her present abode, to put an end to the
views and expectations of Ormond, and to make preparation for her
voyage. We were reconciled to a temporary separation by the necessity
that prescribed it.

During our residence together, the mind of Constantia was kept in
perpetual ferment. The second day after my departure, the turbulence of
her feelings began to subside, and she found herself at leisure to
pursue those measures which her present situation prescribed.

The time prefixed by Ormond for the termination of his absence had
nearly arrived. Her resolutions respecting this man, lately formed, now
occurred to her. Her heart drooped as she revolved the necessity of
disuniting their fates; but that this disunion was proper could not
admit of doubt. How information of her present views might be most
satisfactorily imparted to him, was a question not instantly decided.
She reflected on the impetuosity of his character, and conceived that
her intentions might be most conveniently unfolded in a letter. This
letter she immediately sat down to write. Just then the door opened, and
Ormond entered the apartment.

She was somewhat, and for a moment, startled by this abrupt and
unlooked-for entrance. Yet she greeted him with pleasure. Her greeting
was received with coldness. A second glance at his countenance informed
her that his mind was somewhat discomposed.

Folding his hands on his breast, ho stalked to the window and looked up
at the moon. Presently he withdrew his gaze from this object, and fixed
it upon Constantia. He spoke, but his words were produced by a kind of
effort.

"Fit emblem," he exclaimed, "of human versatility! One impediment is
gone. I hoped it was the only one. But no! the removal of that merely
made room for another. Let this be removed. Well, fate will interplace a
third. All our toils will thus be frustrated, and the ruin will finally
redound upon our heads." There he stopped.

This strain could not be interpreted by Constantia. She smiled, and,
without noticing his incoherences, proceeded to inquire into his
adventures during their separation. He listened to her, but his eyes,
fixed upon hers, and his solemnity of aspect, were immovable. When she
paused, he seated himself close to her, and, grasping her hand with a
vehemence that almost pained her, said,--

"Look at me; steadfastly. Can you read my thoughts? Can your discernment
reach the bounds of my knowledge and the bottom of my purposes? Catch
you not a view of the monsters that are starting into birth _here_?"
(and he put his left hand to his forehead.) "But you cannot. Should I
paint them to you verbally, you would call me jester or deceiver. What
pity that you have not instruments for piercing into thoughts!"

"I presume," said Constantia, affecting cheerfulness which she did not
feel, "such instruments would be useless to me. You never scruple to say
what you think. Your designs are no sooner conceived than they are
expressed. All you know, all you wish, and all you purpose, are known
to others as soon as to yourself. No scruples of decorum, no foresight
of consequences, are obstacles in your way."

"True," replied he; "all obstacles are trampled under foot but one."

"What is the insuperable one?"

"Incredulity in him that hears. I must not say what will not be
credited. I must not relate feats and avow schemes, when my hearer will
say, 'Those feats were never performed; these schemes are not yours.' I
care not if the truth of my tenets and the practicability of my purposes
be denied. Still, I will openly maintain them; but when my assertions
will themselves be disbelieved, when it is denied that I adopt the creed
and project the plans which I affirm to be adopted and projected by me,
it is needless to affirm.

"To-morrow I mean to ascertain the height of the lunar mountains by
travelling to the top of them. Then I will station myself in the track
of the last comet, and wait till its circumvolution suffers me to leap
upon it; then, by walking on its surface, I will ascertain whether it be
hot enough to burn my soles. Do you believe that this can be done?"

"No."

"Do you believe, in consequence of my assertion, that I design to do
this, and that, in my apprehension, it is easy to be done?"

"Not unless I previously believe you to be lunatic."

"Then why should I assert my purposes? Why speak, when the hearer will
infer nothing from my speech but that I am either lunatic or liar?"

"In that predicament, silence is best."

"In that predicament I now stand. I am not going to unfold myself. Just
now, I pitied thee for want of eyes. 'Twas a foolish compassion. Thou
art happy, because thou seest not an inch before thee or behind." Here
he was for a moment buried in thought; then, breaking from his reverie,
he said, "So your father is dead?"

"True," said Constantia, endeavouring to suppress her rising emotions;
"he is no more. It is so recent an event that I imagined you a stranger
to it."

"False imagination! Thinkest thou I would refrain from knowing what so
nearly concerns us both? Perhaps your opinion of my ignorance extends
beyond this. Perhaps I know not your fruitless search for a picture.
Perhaps I neither followed you nor led you to a being called Sophia
Courtland. I was not present at the meeting. I am unapprized of the
effects of your romantic passion for each other. I did not witness the
rapturous effusions and inexorable counsels of the newcomer. I know not
the contents of the letter which you are preparing to write."

As he spoke this, the accents of Ormond gradually augmented in
vehemence. His countenance bespoke a deepening inquietude and growing
passion. He stopped at the mention of the letter, because his voice was
overpowered by emotion. This pause afforded room for the astonishment of
Constantia. Her interviews and conversations with me took place at
seasons of general repose, when all doors were fast and avenues shut, in
the midst of silence, and in the bosom of retirement. The theme of our
discourse was, commonly, too sacred for any ears but our own;
disclosures were of too intimate and delicate a nature for any but a
female audience; they were too injurious to the fame and peace of Ormond
for him to be admitted to partake of them: yet his words implied a full
acquaintance with recent events, and with purposes and deliberations
shrouded, as we imagined, in impenetrable secrecy.

As soon as Constantia recovered from the confusion of these thoughts,
she eagerly questioned him:--"What do you know? How do you know what has
happened, or what is intended?"

"Poor Constantia!" he exclaimed, in a tone bitter and sarcastic. "How
hopeless is thy ignorance! To enlighten thee is past my power. What
do I know? Every thing. Not a tittle has escaped me. Thy letter is
superfluous; I know its contents before they are written. I was
to be told that a soldier and a traveller, a man who refused his
faith to dreams, and his homage to shadows, merited only scorn and
forgetfulness. That thy affections and person were due to another; that
intercourse between us was henceforth to cease; that preparation was
making for a voyage to Britain, and that Ormond was to walk to his grave
alone!"

In spite of harsh tones and inflexible features, these words were
accompanied with somewhat that betrayed a mind full of discord and
agony. Constantia's astonishment was mingled with dejection. The
discovery of a passion deeper and less curable than she suspected--the
perception of embarrassments and difficulties in the path which she had
chosen, that had not previously occurred to her--threw her mind into
anxious suspense.

The measures she had previously concerted were still approved. To part
from Ormond was enjoined by every dictate of discretion and duty. An
explanation of her motives and views could not take place more
seasonably than at present. Every consideration of justice to herself
and humanity to Ormond made it desirable that this interview should be
the last. By inexplicable means, he had gained a knowledge of her
intentions. It was expedient, therefore, to state them with clearness
and force. In what words this was to be done, was the subject of
momentary deliberation.

Her thoughts were discerned, and her speech anticipated, by her
companion:--"Why droopest thou, and why thus silent, Constantia? The
secret of thy fate will never be detected. Till thy destiny be finished,
it will not be the topic of a single fear. But not for thyself, but me,
art thou concerned. Thou dreadest, yet determinest, to confirm my
predictions of thy voyage to Europe and thy severance from me.

"Dismiss thy inquietudes on that score. What misery thy scorn and thy
rejection are able to inflict is inflicted already. Thy decision was
known to me as soon as it was formed. Thy motives were known. Not an
argument or plea of thy counsellor, not a syllable of her invective, not
a sound of her persuasive rhetoric, escaped my hearing. I know thy
decree to be immutable. As my doubts, so my wishes have taken their
flight. Perhaps, in the depth of thy ignorance, it was supposed that I
should struggle to reverse thy purpose by menaces or supplications; that
I should boast of the cruelty with which I should avenge an imaginary
wrong upon myself. No. All is very well. Go. Not a whisper of objection
or reluctance shalt thou hear from me."

"If I could think," said Constantia, with tremulous hesitation, "that
you part from me without anger; that you see the rectitude of my
proceeding--"

"Anger! Rectitude! I pr'ythee, peace. I know thou art going.--I know
that all objection to thy purpose would be vain. Thinkest thou that thy
stay, undictated by love, the mere fruit of compassion, would afford me
pleasure or crown my wishes? No. I am not so dastardly a wretch. There
was something in thy power to bestow, but thy will accords not with thy
power. I merit not the boon, and thou refusest it. I am content."

Here Ormond fixed more significant eyes upon her. "Poor Constantia!" he
continued. "Shall I warn thee of the danger that awaits thee? For what
end? To elude it is impossible. It will come, and thou, perhaps, wilt be
unhappy. Foresight that enables not to shun, only precreates, the evil.

"Come it will. Though future, it knows not the empire of contingency. An
inexorable and immutable decree enjoins it. Perhaps it is thy nature to
meet with calmness what cannot be shunned. Perhaps, when it is past, thy
reason will perceive its irrevocable nature, and restore thee to peace.
Such is the conduct of the wise; but such, I fear, the education of
Constantia Dudley will debar her from pursuing.

"Fain would I regard it as the test of thy wisdom. I look upon thy past
life. All the forms of genuine adversity have beset thy youth. Poverty,
disease, servile labour, a criminal and hapless parent, have been evils
which thou hast not ungracefully sustained. An absent friend and
murdered father were added to thy list of woes, and here thy courage was
deficient. Thy soul was proof against substantial misery, but sunk into
helpless cowardice at the sight of phantoms.

"One more disaster remains. To call it by its true name would be useless
or pernicious. Useless, because thou wouldst pronounce its occurrence
impossible; pernicious, because, if its possibility were granted, the
omen would distract thee with fear. How shall I describe it? Is it loss
of fame? No. The deed will be unwitnessed by a human creature. Thy
reputation will be spotless, for nothing will be done by thee unsuitable
to the tenor of thy past life. Calumny will not be heard to whisper. All
that know thee will be lavish of their eulogies as ever. Their eulogies
will be as justly merited. Of this merit thou wilt entertain as just and
as adequate conceptions as now.

"It is no repetition of the evils thou hast already endured; it is
neither drudgery, nor sickness, nor privation of friends. Strange
perverseness of human reason! It is an evil; it will be thought upon
with agony; it will close up all the sources of pleasurable
recollection; it will exterminate hope; it will endear oblivion, and
push thee into an untimely grave. Yet to grasp it is impossible. The
moment we inspect it nearly, it vanishes. Thy claims to human
approbation and divine applause will be undiminished and unaltered by
it. The testimony of approving conscience will have lost none of its
explicitness and energy. Yet thou wilt feed upon sighs; thy tears will
flow without remission; thou wilt grow enamoured of death, and perhaps
wilt anticipate the stroke of disease.

"Yet perhaps my prediction is groundless as my knowledge. Perhaps thy
discernment will avail to make thee wise and happy. Perhaps thou wilt
perceive thy privilege of sympathetic and intellectual activity to be
untouched. Heaven grant the non-fulfilment of my prophecy, thy
disenthralment from error, and the perpetuation of thy happiness."

Saying this, Ormond withdrew. His words were always accompanied with
gestures and looks and tones that fastened the attention of the hearer;
but the terms of his present discourse afforded, independently of
gesticulation and utterance, sufficient motives to attention and
remembrance. He was gone, but his image was contemplated by Constantia;
his words still rung in her ears.

The letter she designed to compose was rendered, by this interview,
unnecessary. Meanings of which she and her friend alone were conscious
were discovered by Ormond, through some other medium than words; yet
that was impossible. A being unendowed with preternatural attributes
could gain the information which this man possessed, only by the
exertion of his senses.

All human precautions had been used to baffle the attempts of any secret
witness. She recalled to mind the circumstances in which conversations
with her friend had taken place. All had been retirement, secrecy, and
silence. The hours usually dedicated to sleep had been devoted to this
better purpose. Much had been said, in a voice low and scarcely louder
than a whisper. To have overheard it at the distance of a few feet was
apparently impossible.

Their conversations had not been recorded by her. It could not be
believed that this had been done by Sophia Courtland. Had Ormond and her
friend met during the interval that had elapsed between her separation
from the latter and her meeting with the former? Human events are
conjoined by links imperceptible to keenest eyes. Of Ormond's means of
information she was wholly unapprized. Perhaps accident would some time
unfold them. One thing was incontestable:--that her schemes and her
reasons for adopting them were known to him.

What unforeseen effects had that knowledge produced! In what ambiguous
terms had he couched his prognostics of some mighty evil that awaited
her! He had given a terrible but contradictory description of her
destiny. An event was to happen, akin to no calamity which she had
already endured, disconnected with all which the imagination of man is
accustomed to deprecate, capable of urging her to suicide, and yet of a
kind which left it undecided whether she would regard it with
indifference.

What reliance should she place upon prophetic incoherences thus wild?
What precautions should she take against a danger thus inscrutable and
imminent?



CHAPTER VIII.


These incidents and reflections were speedily transmitted to me. I had
always believed the character and machinations of Ormond to be worthy of
caution and fear. His means of information I did not pretend, and
thought it useless, to investigate. We cannot hide our actions and
thoughts from one of powerful sagacity, whom the detection sufficiently
interests to make him use all the methods of detection in his power. The
study of concealment is, in all cases, fruitless or hurtful. All that
duty enjoins is to design and to execute nothing which may not be
approved by a divine and omniscient Observer. Human scrutiny is neither
to be solicited nor shunned. Human approbation or censure can never be
exempt from injustice, because our limited perceptions debar us from a
thorough knowledge of any actions and motives but our own.

On reviewing what had passed between Constantia and me, I recollected
nothing incompatible with purity and rectitude. That Ormond was apprized
of all that had passed, I by no means inferred from the tenor of his
conversation with Constantia; nor, if this had been incontestably
proved, should I have experienced any trepidation or anxiety on that
account.

His obscure and indirect menaces of evil were of more importance. His
discourse on this topic seemed susceptible only of two constructions.
Either he intended some fatal mischief, and was willing to torment her
by fears, while he concealed from her the nature of her danger, that he
might hinder her from guarding her safety by suitable precautions; or,
being hopeless of rendering her propitious to his wishes, his malice was
satisfied with leaving her a legacy of apprehension and doubt.
Constantia's unacquaintance with the doctrines of that school in which
Ormond was probably instructed led her to regard the conduct of this man
with more curiosity and wonder than fear. She saw nothing but a
disposition to sport with her ignorance and bewilder her with doubts.

I do not believe myself destitute of courage. Rightly to estimate the
danger and encounter it with firmness are worthy of a rational being;
but to place our security in thoughtlessness and blindness is only less
ignoble than cowardice. I could not forget the proofs of violence which
accompanied the death of Mr. Dudley. I could not overlook, in the recent
conversation with Constantia, Ormond's allusion to her murdered father.
It was possible that the nature of this death had been accidentally
imparted to him; but it was likewise possible that his was the knowledge
of one who performed the act.

The enormity of this deed appeared by no means incongruous with the
sentiments of Ormond. Human life is momentous or trivial in our eyes,
according to the course which our habits and opinions have taken.
Passion greedily accepts, and habit readily offers, the sacrifice of
another's life, and reason obeys the impulse of education and desire.

A youth of eighteen, a volunteer in a Russian army encamped in
Bessarabia, made prey of a Tartar girl, found in the field of a recent
battle. Conducting her to his quarters, he met a friend, who, on some
pretence, claimed the victim. From angry words they betook themselves to
swords. A combat ensued, in which the first claimant ran his antagonist
through the body. He then bore his prize unmolested away, and, having
exercised brutality of one kind upon the helpless victim, stabbed her to
the heart, as an offering to the _manes_ of Sarsefield, the friend whom
he had slain. Next morning, willing more signally to expiate his guilt,
he rushed alone upon a troop of Turkish foragers, and brought away five
heads, suspended, by their gory locks, to his horse's mane. These he
cast upon the grave of Sarsefield, and conceived himself fully to have
expiated yesterday's offence. In reward for his prowess, the general
gave him a commission in the Cossack troops. This youth was Ormond; and
such is a specimen of his exploits during a military career of eight
years, in a warfare the most savage and implacable, and, at the same
time, the most iniquitous and wanton, which history records.

With passions and habits like these, the life of another was a trifling
sacrifice to vengeance or impatience. How Mr. Dudley had excited the
resentment of Ormond, by what means the assassin had accomplished his
intention without awakening alarm or incurring suspicion, it was not for
me to discover. The inextricability of human events, the imperviousness
of cunning, and the obduracy of malice, I had frequent occasions to
remark.

I did not labour to vanquish the security of my friend. As to
precautions, they were useless. There was no fortress, guarded by
barriers of stone and iron and watched by sentinels that never slept, to
which she might retire from his stratagems. If there were such a
retreat, it would scarcely avail her against a foe circumspect and
subtle as Ormond.

I pondered on the condition of my friend. I reviewed the incidents of
her life. I compared her lot with that of others. I could not but
discover a sort of incurable malignity in her fate. I felt as if it were
denied to her to enjoy a long life or permanent tranquillity. I asked
myself what she had done, entitling her to this incessant persecution.
Impatience and murmuring took place of sorrow and fear in my heart. When
I reflected that all human agency was merely subservient to a divine
purpose, I fell into fits of accusation and impiety.

This injustice was transient, and soberer views convinced me that every
scheme, comprising the whole, must be productive of partial and
temporary evil. The sufferings of Constantia were limited to a moment;
they were the unavoidable appendages of terrestrial existence; they
formed the only avenue to wisdom, and the only claim to uninterrupted
fruition and eternal repose in an after-scene.

The course of my reflections, and the issue to which they led, were
unforeseen by myself. Fondly as I doted upon this woman, methought I
could resign her to the grave without a murmur or a tear. While my
thoughts were calmed by resignation, and my fancy occupied with nothing
but the briefness of that space and evanescence of that time which
severs the living from the dead, I contemplated, almost with
complacency, a violent or untimely close to her existence.

This loftiness of mind could not always be accomplished or constantly
maintained. One effect of my fears was to hasten my departure to Europe.
There existed no impediment but the want of a suitable conveyance. In
the first packet that should leave America, it was determined to secure
a passage. Mr. Melbourne consented to take charge of Constantia's
property, and, after the sale of it, to transmit to her the money that
should thence arise.

Meanwhile, I was anxious that Constantia should leave her present abode
and join me in New York. She willingly adopted this arrangement, but
conceived it necessary to spend a few days at her house in Jersey. She
could reach the latter place without much deviation from the straight
road, and she was desirous of resurveying a spot where many of her
infantile days had been spent.

This house and domain I have already mentioned to have once belonged to
Mr. Dudley. It was selected with the judgement and adorned with the taste
of a disciple of the schools of Florence and Vicenza. In his view,
cultivation was subservient to the picturesque, and a mansion was
erected, eminent for nothing but chastity of ornaments and simplicity of
structure. The massive parts were of stone; the outer surfaces were
smooth, snow-white, and diversified by apertures and cornices, in which
a cement uncommonly tenacious was wrought into proportions the most
correct and forms the most graceful. The floors, walls, and ceilings,
consisted of a still more exquisitely-tempered substance, and were
painted by Mr. Dudley's own hand. All appendages of this building, as
seats, tables, and cabinets, were modelled by the owner's particular
direction, and in a manner scrupulously classical.

He had scarcely entered on the enjoyment of this splendid possession,
when it was ravished away. No privation was endured with more impatience
than this; but, happily, it was purchased by one who left Mr. Dudley's
arrangements unmolested, and who shortly after conveyed it entire to
Ormond. By him it was finally appropriated to the use of Helena Cleves,
and now, by a singular contexture of events, it had reverted to those
hands in which the death of the original proprietor, if no other change
had been made in his condition, would have left it. The farm still
remained in the tenure of a German emigrant, who held it partly on
condition of preserving the garden and mansion in safety and in perfect
order.

This retreat was now revisited by Constantia, after an interval of four
years. Autumn had made some progress, but the aspect of nature was, so
to speak, more significant than at any other season. She was agreeably
accommodated under the tenant's roof, and found a nameless pleasure in
traversing spaces in which every object prompted an endless train of
recollections.

Her sensations were not foreseen. They led to a state of mind
inconsistent, in some degree, with the projects adopted in obedience to
the suggestions of a friend. Every thing in this scene had been created
and modelled by the genius of her father. It was a kind of fane,
sanctified by his imaginary presence.

To consign the fruits of his industry and invention to foreign and
unsparing hands seemed a kind of sacrilege, for which she almost feared
that the dead would rise to upbraid her. Those images which bind us to
our natal soil, to the abode of our innocent and careless youth, were
recalled to her fancy by the scenes which she now beheld. These were
enforced by considerations of the dangers which attended her voyage from
storms and from enemies, and from the tendency to revolution and war
which seemed to actuate all the nations of Europe. Her native country
was by no means exempt from similar tendencies, but these evils were
less imminent, and its manners and government, in their present
modifications, were unspeakably more favourable to the dignity and
improvement of the human race than those which prevailed in any part of
the ancient world.

My solicitations and my obligation to repair to England overweighed her
objections, but her new reflections led her to form new determinations
with regard to this part of her property. She concluded to retain
possession, and hoped that some future event would allow her to return
to this favourite spot without forfeiture of my society. An abode of
some years in Europe would more eminently qualify her for the enjoyment
of retirement and safety in her native country. The time that should
elapse before her embarkation, she was desirous of passing among the
shades of this romantic retreat.

I was by no means reconciled to this proceeding. I loved my friend too
well to endure any needless separation without repining. In addition to
this, the image of Ormond haunted my thoughts, and gave birth to
incessant but indefinable fears. I believed that her safety would very
little depend upon the nature of her abode, or the number or
watchfulness of her companions. My nearness to her person would
frustrate no stratagem, nor promote any other end than my own
entanglement in the same fold. Still, that I was not apprized each hour
of her condition, that her state was lonely and sequestered, were
sources of disquiet, the obvious remedy to which was her coming to New
York. Preparations for departure were assigned to me, and these required
my continuance in the city.

Once a week, Laffert, her tenant, visited, for purposes of traffic, the
city. He was the medium of our correspondence. To him I intrusted a
letter, in which my dissatisfaction at her absence, and the causes which
gave it birth, were freely confessed.

The confidence of safety seldom deserted my friend. Since her mysterious
conversation with Ormond, he had utterly vanished. Previous to that
interview, his visits or his letters were incessant and punctual; but
since, no token was given that he existed. Two months had elapsed. He
gave her no reason to expect a cessation of intercourse. He had parted
from her with his usual abruptness and informality. She did not conceive
it incumbent on her to search him out, but she would not have been
displeased with an opportunity to discuss with him more fully the
motives of her conduct. This opportunity had been hitherto denied.

Her occupations in her present retreat were, for the most part, dictated
by caprice or by chance. The mildness of autumn permitted her to ramble,
during the day, from one rock and one grove to another. There was a
luxury in musing, and in the sensations which the scenery and silence
produced, which, in consequence of her long estrangement from them, were
accompanied with all the attractions of novelty, and from which she
would not consent to withdraw.

In the evening she usually retired to the mansion, and shut herself up
in that apartment which, in the original structure of the house, had
been designed for study, and no part of whose furniture had been removed
or displaced. It was a kind of closet on the second floor, illuminated
by a spacious window, through which a landscape of uncommon amplitude
and beauty was presented to the view. Here the pleasures of the day were
revived, by recalling and enumerating them in letters to her friend. She
always quitted this recess with reluctance, and seldom till the night
was half spent.

One evening she retired hither when the sun had just dipped beneath the
horizon. Her implements of writing were prepared; but, before the pen
was assumed, her eyes rested for a moment on the variegated hues which
were poured out upon the western sky and upon the scene of intermingled
waters, copses, and fields. The view comprised a part of the road which
led to this dwelling. It was partially and distantly seen, and the
passage of horses or men was betokened chiefly by the dust which was
raised by their footsteps.

A token of this kind now caught her attention. It fixed her eye chiefly
by the picturesque effect produced by interposing its obscurity between
her and the splendours which the sun had left. Presently she gained a
faint view of a man and horse. This circumstance laid no claim to
attention, and she was withdrawing her eye, when the traveller's
stopping and dismounting at the gate made her renew her scrutiny. This
was reinforced by something in the figure and movements of the horseman
which reminded her of Ormond.

She started from her seat with some degree of palpitation. Whence this
arose, whether from fear or from joy, or from intermixed emotions, it
would not be easy to ascertain. Having entered the gate, the visitant,
remounting his horse, set the animal on full speed. Every moment brought
him nearer, and added to her first belief. He stopped not till he
reached the mansion. The person of Ormond was distinctly recognised.

An interview at this dusky and lonely hour, in circumstances so abrupt
and unexpected, could not fail to surprise, and, in some degree, to
alarm. The substance of his last conversation was recalled. The evils
which were darkly and ambiguously predicted thronged to her memory. It
seemed as if the present moment was to be, in some way, decisive of her
fate. This visit she did not hesitate to suppose designed for her, but
somewhat uncommonly momentous must have prompted him to take so long a
journey.

The rooms on the lower floor were dark, the windows and doors being
fastened. She had entered the house by the principal door, and this was
the only one at present unlocked. The room in which she sat was over the
hall, and the massive door beneath could not be opened without noisy
signals. The question that occurred to her, by what means Ormond would
gain admittance to her presence, she supposed would be instantly
decided. She listened to hear his footsteps on the pavement, or the
creaking of hinges. The silence, however, continued profound as before.

After a minute's pause, she approached the window more nearly and
endeavoured to gain a view of the space before the house. She saw
nothing but the horse, whose bridle was thrown over his neck, and who
was left at liberty to pick up what scanty herbage the lawn afforded to
his hunger. The rider had disappeared.

It now occurred to her that this visit had a purpose different from that
which she at first conjectured. It was easily conceived that Ormond was
unacquainted with her residence at this spot. The knowledge could only
be imparted to him by indirect or illicit means. That these means had
been employed by him, she was by no means authorized to infer from the
silence and distance he had lately maintained. But if an interview with
her were not the purpose of his coming, how should she interpret it?



CHAPTER IX.


While occupied with these reflections, the light hastily disappeared,
and darkness, rendered, by a cloudy atmosphere, uncommonly intense,
succeeded. She had the means of lighting a lamp that hung against the
wall, but had been too much immersed in thought to notice the deepening
of the gloom. Recovering from her reverie, she looked around her with
some degree of trepidation, and prepared to strike a spark that would
enable her to light her lamp.

She had hitherto indulged an habitual indifference to danger. Now the
presence of Ormond, the unknown purpose that led him hither, and the
defencelessness of her condition, inspired her with apprehensions to
which she had hitherto been a stranger. She had been accustomed to pass
many nocturnal hours in this closet. Till now, nothing had occurred that
made her enter it with circumspection or continue in it with reluctance.

Her sensations were no longer tranquil. Each minute that she spent in
this recess appeared to multiply her hazards. To linger here appeared to
her the height of culpable temerity. She hastily resolved to return to
the farmer's dwelling, and, on the morrow, to repair to New York. For
this end she was desirous to produce a light. The materials were at
hand.

She lifted her hand to strike the flint, when her ear caught a sound
which betokened the opening of the door that led into the next
apartment. Her motion was suspended, and she listened as well as a
throbbing heart would permit. That Ormond's was the hand that opened,
was the first suggestion of her fears. The motives of this unseasonable
entrance could not be reconciled with her safety. He had given no
warning of his approach, and the door was opened with tardiness and
seeming caution.

Sounds continued, of which no distinct conception could be obtained, or
the cause that produced them assigned. The floors of every apartment
being composed, like the walls and ceiling, of cement, footsteps were
rendered almost undistinguishable. It was plain, however, that some one
approached her own door.

The panic and confusion that now invaded her was owing to surprise, and
to the singularity of her situation. The mansion was desolate and
lonely. It was night. She was immersed in darkness. She had not the
means, and was unaccustomed to the office, of repelling personal
injuries. What injuries she had reason to dread, who was the agent, and
what were his motives, were subjects Of vague and incoherent meditation.

Meanwhile, low and imperfect sounds, that had in them more of inanimate
than human, assailed her ear. Presently they ceased. An inexplicable
fear deterred her from calling. Light would have exercised a friendly
influence. This it was in her power to produce, but not without motion
and noise; and these, by occasioning the discovery of her being in the
closet, might possibly enhance her danger.

Conceptions like these were unworthy of the mind of Constantia. An
interval of silence succeeded, interrupted only by the whistling of the
blast without. It was sufficient for the restoration of her courage. She
blushed at the cowardice which had trembled at a sound. She considered
that Ormond might, indeed, be near, but that he was probably unconscious
of her situation. His coming was not with the circumspection of an
enemy. He might be acquainted with the place of her retreat, and had
come to obtain an interview, with no clandestine or mysterious purposes.
The noises she had heard had, doubtless, proceeded from the next
apartment, but might be produced by some harmless or vagrant creature.

These considerations restored her tranquillity. They enabled her,
deliberately, to create a light, but they did not dissuade her from
leaving the house. Omens of evil seemed to be connected with this
solitary and darksome abode. Besides, Ormond had unquestionably entered
upon this scene It could not be doubted that she was the object of his
visit. The farm-house was a place of meeting more suitable and safe than
any other. Thither, therefore, she determined immediately to return.

The closet had but one door, and this led into the chamber where the
sounds had arisen. Through this chamber, therefore, she was obliged to
pass, in order to reach the staircase, which terminated in the hall
below.

Bearing the light in her left hand, she withdrew the bolt of the door
and opened. In spite of courageous efforts, she opened with
unwillingness, and shuddered to throw a glance forward or advance a step
into the room. This was not needed, to reveal to her the cause of her
late disturbance. Her eye instantly lighted on the body of a man,
supine, motionless, stretched on the floor, close to the door through
which she was about to pass.

A spectacle like this was qualified to startle her. She shrunk back, and
fixed a more steadfast eye upon the prostrate person. There was no mark
of blood or of wounds, but there was something in the attitude more
significant of death than of sleep. His face rested on the floor, and
his ragged locks concealed what part of his visage was not hidden by his
posture. His garb was characterized by fashionable elegance, but was
polluted with dust.

The image that first occurred to her was that of Ormond. This instantly
gave place to another, which was familiar to her apprehension. It was at
first too indistinctly seen to suggest a name. She continued to gaze and
to be lost in fearful astonishment. Was this the person whose entrance
had been overheard, and who had dragged himself hither to die at her
door? Yet, in that case, would not groans and expiring efforts have
testified his condition and invoked her succour? Was he not brought
hither in the arms of his assassin? She mused upon the possible motives
that induced some one thus to act, and upon the connection that might
subsist between her destiny and that of the dead.

Her meditations, however fruitless in other respects, could not fail to
show her the propriety of hastening from this spot. To scrutinize the
form or face of the dead was a task to which her courage was unequal.
Suitably accompanied and guarded, she would not scruple to return and
ascertain, by the most sedulous examination, the cause of this ominous
event.

She stepped over the breathless corpse, and hurried to the staircase. It
became her to maintain the command of her muscles and joints, and to
proceed without faltering or hesitation. Scarcely had she reached the
entrance of the hall, when, casting anxious looks forward, she beheld a
human figure. No scrutiny was requisite to inform her that this was
Ormond.

She stopped. He approached her with looks and gestures placid but
solemn. There was nothing in his countenance rugged or malignant. On the
contrary, there were tokens of compassion.

"So," said he, "I expected to meet you. Alight, gleaming from the
window, marked you out. This and Laffert's directions have guided me."

"What," said Constantia, with discomposure in her accent, "was your
motive for seeking me?"

"Have you forgotten," said Ormond, "what passed at our last interview?
The evil that I then predicted is at hand. Perhaps you were incredulous;
you accounted me a madman or deceiver; now I am come to witness the
fulfilment of my words and the completion of your destiny. To rescue you
I have not come: that is not within the compass of human powers.

"Poor Constantia," he continued, in tones that manifested genuine
sympathy, "look upon thyself as lost. The toils that beset thee are
inextricable. Summon up thy patience to endure the evil. Now will the
last and heaviest trial betide thy fortitude. I could weep for thee, if
my manly nature would permit. This is the scene of thy calamity, and
this the hour."

These words were adapted to excite curiosity mingled with terror.
Ormond's deportment was of an unexampled tenor, as well as that evil
which he had so ambiguously predicted. He offered no protection from
danger, and yet gave no proof of being himself an agent or auxiliary.
After a minute's pause, Constantia, recovering a firm tone, said,--

"Mr. Ormond, your recent deportment but ill accords with your
professions of sincerity and plain dealing. What your purpose is, or
whether you have any purpose, I am at a loss to conjecture. Whether you
most deserve censure or ridicule, is a point which you afford me not the
means of deciding, and to which, unless on your own account, I am
indifferent. If you are willing to be more explicit, or if there be any
topic on which you wish further to converse, I will not refuse your
company to Laffert's dwelling. Longer to remain here would be indiscreet
and absurd."

So saying, she motioned towards the door. Ormond was passive, and seemed
indisposed to prevent her departure, till she laid her hand upon the
lock. He then, without moving from his place, exclaimed,--

"Stay! Must this meeting, which fate ordains to be the last, be so
short? Must a time and place so suitable for what remains to be said and
done be neglected or misused? No. You charge me with duplicity, and deem
my conduct either ridiculous or criminal. I have stated my reasons for
concealment, but these have failed to convince you. Well, here is now an
end to doubt. All ambiguities are preparing to vanish."

When Ormond began to speak, Constantia paused to hearken to him. His
vehemence was not of that nature which threatened to obstruct her
passage. It was by entreaty that he apparently endeavoured to detain her
steps, and not by violence. Hence arose her patience to listen. He
continued:--

"Constantia! thy father is dead. Art thou not desirous of detecting the
author of his fate? Will it afford thee no consolation to know that the
deed is punished? Wilt thou suffer me to drag the murderer to thy feet?
Thy justice will be gratified by this sacrifice. Somewhat will be due to
him who avenged thy wrong in the blood of the perpetrator. What sayest
thou? Grant me thy permission, and in a moment I will drag him hither."

These words called up the image of the person whose corpse she had
lately seen. It was readily conceived that to him Ormond alluded; but
this was the assassin of her father, and his crime had been detected and
punished by Ormond! These images had no other effect than to urge her
departure: she again applied her hand to the lock, and said,--

"This scene must not be prolonged. My father's death I desire not to
hear explained or to see revenged, but whatever information you are
willing or able to communicate must be deferred."

"Nay," interrupted Ormond, with augmented vehemence, "art thou equally
devoid of curiosity and justice? Thinkest thou that the enmity which
bereft thy father of life will not seek thy own? There are evils which I
cannot prevent thee from enduring, but there are, likewise, ills which
my counsel will enable thee and thy friend to shun. Save me from
witnessing thy death. Thy father's destiny is sealed; all that remained
was to punish his assassin; but thou and thy Sophia still live. Why
should ye perish by a like stroke?"

This intimation was sufficient to arrest the steps of Constantia. She
withdrew her hand from the door, and fixed eyes of the deepest anxiety
on Ormond:--"What mean you? How am I to understand--"

"Ah!" said Ormond, "I see thou wilt consent to stay. Thy detention shall
not be long. Remain where thou art during one moment,--merely while I
drag hither thy enemy and show thee a visage which thou wilt not be slow
to recognise." Saying this, he hastily ascended the staircase, and
quickly passed beyond her sight.

Deportment thus mysterious could not fail of bewildering her thoughts.
There was somewhat in the looks and accents of Ormond, different from
former appearances; tokens of a hidden purpose and a smothered meaning
were perceptible,--a mixture of the inoffensive and the lawless, which,
added to the loneliness and silence that encompassed her, produced a
faltering emotion. Her curiosity was overpowered by her fear, and the
resolution was suddenly conceived of seizing this opportunity to escape.

A third time she put her hand to the lock and attempted to open. The
effort was ineffectual. The door that was accustomed to obey the
gentlest touch was now immovable. She had lately unlocked and passed
through it. Her eager inspection convinced her that the principal bolt
was still withdrawn, but a small one was now perceived, of whose
existence she had not been apprized, and over which her key had no
power.

Now did she first harbour a fear that was intelligible in its dictates.
Now did she first perceive herself sinking in the toils of some lurking
enemy. Hope whispered that this foe was not Ormond. His conduct had
bespoken no willingness to put constraint upon her steps. He talked not
as if he was aware of this obstruction, and yet his seeming acquiescence
might have flowed from a knowledge that she had no power to remove
beyond his reach.

He warned her of danger to her life, of which he was her self-appointed
rescuer. His counsel was to arm her with sufficient caution; the peril
that awaited her was imminent; this was the time and place of its
occurrence, and here she was compelled to remain, till the power that
fastened would condescend to loose the door. There were other avenues to
the hall. These were accustomed to be locked; but Ormond had found
access, and, if all continued fast, it was incontestable that he was the
author of this new impediment.

The other avenues were hastily examined. All were bolted and locked. The
first impulse led her to call for help from without; but the mansion was
distant from Laffert's habitation. This spot was wholly unfrequented. No
passenger was likely to be stationed where her call could be heard.
Besides, this forcible detention might operate for a short time, and be
attended with no mischievous consequences. Whatever was to come, it was
her duty to collect her courage and encounter it.

Tho steps of Ormond above now gave tokens of his approach. Vigilant
observance of this man was all that her situation permitted. A vehement
effort restored her to some degree of composure. Her stifled
palpitations allowed her steadfastly to notice him as he now descended
the stairs, bearing a lifeless body in his arms. "There!" said he, as he
cast it at her feet; "whose countenance is that? Who would imagine that
features like those belonged to an assassin and impostor?"

Closed eyelids and fallen muscles could not hide from her lineaments so
often seen. She shrunk back and exclaimed, "Thomas Craig!"

A pause succeeded, in which she alternately gazed at the countenance of
this unfortunate wretch and at Ormond. At length, the latter
exclaimed,--

"Well, my girl, hast thou examined him? Dost thou recognise a friend or
an enemy?"

"I know him well: but how came this? What purpose brought him hither?
Who was the author of his fate?"

"Have I not already told thee that Ormond was his own avenger and thine?
To thee and to me he has been a robber. To him thy father is indebted
for the loss not only of property but life. Did crimes like these merit
a less punishment? And what recompense is due to him whose vigilance
pursued him hither and made him pay for his offences with his blood?
What benefit have I received at thy hand to authorize me, for thy sake,
to take away his life?"

"No benefit received from me," said Constantia, "would justify such an
act. I should have abhorred myself for annexing to my benefits so bloody
a condition. It calls for no gratitude or recompense. Its suitable
attendant is remorse. That he is a thief, I know but too well; that my
father died by his hand is incredible. No motives or means--"

"Why so?" interrupted Ormond. "Does not sleep seal up the senses? Cannot
closets be unlocked at midnight? Cannot adjoining houses communicate by
doors? Cannot these doors be hidden from suspicion by a sheet of
canvas?"

These words were of startling and abundant import. They reminded her of
circumstances in her father's chamber, which sufficiently explained the
means by which his life was assailed. The closet, and its canvas-covered
wall; the adjoining house untenanted and shut up--but this house, though
unoccupied, belonged to Ormond. From the inferences which flowed hence,
her attention was withdrawn by her companion, who continued:--

"Do these means imply the interposal of a miracle? His motives? What
scruples can be expected from a man inured from infancy to cunning and
pillage? Will he abstain from murder when urged by excruciating poverty,
by menaces of persecution, by terror of expiring on the gallows?"

Tumultuous suspicions were now awakened in the mind of Constantia. Her
faltering voice scarcely allowed her to ask, "How know _you_ that Craig
was thus guilty?--that these were his incitements and means?"

Ormond's solemnity now gave place to a tone of sarcasm and looks of
exultation:--"Poor Constantia! Thou art still pestered with incredulity
and doubts! My veracity is still in question! My knowledge, girl, is
infallible. That these were his means of access I cannot be ignorant,
for I pointed them out. He was urged by these motives, for they were
stated and enforced by me. His was the deed, for I stood beside him when
it was done."

These, indeed, were terms that stood in no need of further explanation.
The veil that shrouded this formidable being was lifted high enough to
make him be regarded with inexplicable horror. What his future acts
should be, how his omens of ill were to be solved, were still involved
in uncertainty.

In the midst of fears for her own safety, by which Constantia was now
assailed, the image of her father was revived; keen regret and vehement
upbraiding were conjured up.

"Craig, then, was the instrument, and yours the instigation, that
destroyed my father! In what had he offended you? What cause had he
given for resentment?"

"Cause!" replied he, with impetuous accents. "Resentment! None. My
motive was benevolent; my deed conferred a benefit. I gave him sight and
took away his life, from motives equally wise. Know you not that Ormond
was fool enough to set value on the affections of a woman? These were
sought with preposterous anxiety and endless labour. Among other
facilitators of his purpose, he summoned gratitude to his aid. To
snatch you from poverty, to restore his sight to your father, were
expected to operate as incentives to love.

"But here I was the dupe of error. A thousand prejudices stood in my
way. These, provided our intercourse were not obstructed, I hoped to
subdue. The rage of innovation seized your father: this, blended with a
mortal antipathy to me, made him labour to seduce you from the bosom of
your peaceful country; to make you enter on a boisterous sea; to visit
lands where all is havoc and hostility; to snatch you from the influence
of my arguments.

"This new obstacle I was bound to remove. While revolving the means,
chance and his evil destiny threw Craig in my way. I soon convinced him
that his reputation and his life were in my hands. His retention of
these depended upon my will, on the performance of conditions which I
prescribed.

"My happiness and yours depended on your concurrence with my wishes.
Your father's life was an obstacle to your concurrence. For killing him,
therefore, I may claim your gratitude. His death was a due and
disinterested offering at the altar of your felicity and mine.

"My deed was not injurious to him. At his age, death, whose coming at
some period is inevitable, could not be distant. To make it unforeseen
and brief, and void of pain,--to preclude the torments of a lingering
malady, a slow and visible descent to the grave,--was the dictate of
beneficence. But of what value was a continuance of his life? Either you
would have gone with him to Europe or have stayed at home with me. In
the first case, his life would have been rapidly consumed by perils and
cares. In the second, separation from you, and union with me,--a being
so detestable,--would equally have poisoned his existence.

"Craig's cowardice and crimes made him a pliant and commodious tool. I
pointed out the way. The unsuspected door which led into the closet of
your father's chamber was made, by my direction, during the life of
Helena. By this avenue I was wont to post myself where all your
conversations could be overheard. By this avenue an entrance and
retreat were afforded to the agent of my newest purpose.

"Fool that I was! I solaced myself with the belief that all impediments
were now smoothed, when a new enemy appeared. My folly lasted as long as
my hope. I saw that to gain your affections, fortified by antiquated
scruples and obsequious to the guidance of this new monitor, was
impossible. It is not my way to toil after that which is beyond my
reach. If the greater good be inaccessible, I learn to be contented with
the less.

"I have served you with successless sedulity. I have set an engine in
act to obliterate an obstacle to your felicity, and lay your father at
rest. Under my guidance, this engine was productive only of good.
Governed by itself or by another, it will only work you harm. I have,
therefore, hastened to destroy it. Lo! it is now before you motionless
and impotent.

"For this complexity of benefit I look for no reward. I am not tired of
well-doing. Having ceased to labour for an unattainable good, I have
come hither to possess myself of all that I now crave, and by the same
deed to afford you an illustrious opportunity to signalize your wisdom
and your fortitude."

During this speech, the mind of Constantia became more deeply pervaded
with dread of some overhanging but incomprehensible evil. The strongest
impulse was to gain a safe asylum, at a distance from this spot and from
the presence of this extraordinary being. This impulse was followed by
the recollection that her liberty was taken away, that egress from the
hall was denied her, and that this restriction might be part of some
conspiracy of Ormond against her life.

Security from danger like this would be, in the first place, sought, by
one of Constantia's sex and opinions, in flight. This had been rendered,
by some fatal chance or by the precautions of her foe, impracticable.
Stratagem or force was all that remained to elude or disarm her
adversary. For the contrivance and execution of fraud, all the habits of
her life and all the maxims of her education had conspired to unfit her.
Her force of muscles would avail her nothing against the superior
energy of Ormond.

She remembered that to inflict death was no iniquitous exertion of
self-defence, and that the penknife which she held in her hand was
capable of this service. She had used it to remove any lurking
obstruction in the wards of her key, supposing, for a time, this to be
the cause of her failing to withdraw the bolt of the door. This resource
was, indeed, scarcely less disastrous and deplorable than any fate from
which it could rescue her. Some uncertainty still involved the
intentions of Ormond. As soon as he paused, she spoke:--

"How am I to understand this prelude? Let me know the full extent of my
danger,--why it is that I am hindered from leaving this house, and why
this interview was sought."

"Ah, Constantia, this, indeed, is merely a prelude to a scene that is to
terminate my influence over thy fate. When this is past I have sworn to
part with thee forever. Art thou still dubious of my purpose? Art thou
not a woman? And have I not entreated for thy love and been rejected?

"Canst thou imagine that I aim at thy life? My avowals of love were
sincere; my passion was vehement and undisguised. It gave dignity and
value to a gift in thy power, as a woman, to bestow. This has been
denied. That gift has lost none of its value in my eyes. What thou
refusest to bestow it is in my power to extort. I came for that end.
When this end is accomplished, I will restore thee to liberty."

These words were accompanied by looks that rendered all explanation of
their meaning useless. The evil reserved for her, hitherto obscured by
half-disclosed and contradictory attributes, was now sufficiently
apparent. The truth in this respect unveiled itself with the rapidity
and brightness of an electrical flash.

She was silent. She cast her eyes at the windows and doors. Escape
through them was hopeless. She looked at those lineaments of Ormond
which evinced his disdain of supplication and inexorable passions. She
felt that entreaty and argument would be vain; that all appeals to his
compassion and benevolence would counteract her purpose, since, in the
unexampled conformation of this man's mind, these principles were made
subservient to his most flagitious designs. Considerations of justice
and pity were made, by a fatal perverseness of reasoning, champions and
bulwarks of his most atrocious mistakes.

The last extremes of opposition, the most violent expedients for
defence, would be justified by being indispensable. To find safety for
her honour, even in the blood of an assailant, was the prescription of
duty. Tho equity of this species of defence was not, in the present
confusion of her mind, a subject of momentary doubt.

To forewarn him of her desperate purpose would be to furnish him with
means of counteraction. Her weapon would easily be wrested from her
feeble hand. Ineffectual opposition would only precipitate her evil
destiny. A rage, contented with nothing less than her life, might be
awakened in his bosom. But was not this to be desired? Death, untimely
and violent, was better than the loss of honour.

This thought led to a new series of reflections. She involuntarily
shrunk from the act of killing: but would her efforts to destroy her
adversary be effectual? Would not his strength and dexterity easily
repel or elude them? Her power in this respect was questionable, but her
power was undeniably sufficient to a different end. The instrument which
could not rescue her from this injury by the destruction of another
might save her from it by her own destruction.

These thoughts rapidly occurred; but the resolution to which they led
was scarcely formed, when Ormond advanced towards her. She recoiled a
few steps, and, showing the knife which she held, said,--

"Ormond! Beware! Know that my unalterable resolution is to die
uninjured. I have the means in my power. Stop where you are; one step
more, and I plunge this knife into my heart. I know that to contend with
your strength or your reason would be vain. To turn this weapon against
you I should not fear, if I were sure of success; but to that I will
not trust. To save a greater good by the sacrifice of life is in my
power, and that sacrifice shall be made."

"Poor Constantia!" replied Ormond, in a tone of contempt; "so thou
preferrest thy imaginary honour to life! To escape this injury without a
name or substance, without connection with the past or future, without
contamination of thy purity or thraldom of thy will, thou wilt kill
thyself; put an end to thy activity in virtue's cause; rob thy friend of
her solace, the world of thy beneficence, thyself of being and pleasure?

"I shall be grieved for the fatal issue of my experiment; I shall mourn
over thy martyrdom to the most opprobrious and contemptible of all
errors: but that thou shouldst undergo the trial is decreed. There is
still an interval of hope that thy cowardice is counterfeited, or that
it will give place to wisdom and courage.

"Whatever thou intendest by way of prevention or cure, it behooves thee
to employ with steadfastness. Die with the guilt of suicide and the
brand of cowardice upon thy memory, or live with thy claims to felicity
and approbation undiminished. Choose which thou wilt. Thy decision is of
moment to thyself, but of none to me. Living or dead, the prize that I
have in view shall be mine."



CHAPTER X.


It will be requisite to withdraw your attention from this scene for a
moment, and fix it on myself. My impatience of my friend's delay, for
some days preceding this disastrous interview, became continually more
painful. As the time of our departure approached, my dread of some
misfortune or impediment increased. Ormond's disappearance from the
scene contributed but little to my consolation. To wrap his purposes in
mystery, to place himself at seeming distance, was the usual artifice of
such as he,--was necessary to the maturing of his project and the
hopeless entanglement of his victim. I saw no means of placing the
safety of my friend beyond his reach. Between different methods of
procedure, there was, however, room for choice. Her present abode was
more hazardous than an abode in the city. To be alone argued a state
more defenceless and perilous than to be attended by me.

I wrote her an urgent admonition to return. My remonstrances were
couched in such terms as, in my own opinion, laid her under the
necessity of immediate compliance. The letter was despatched by the
usual messenger, and for some hours I solaced myself with the prospect
of a speedy meeting.

These thoughts gave place to doubt and apprehension. I began to distrust
the efficacy of my arguments, and to invent a thousand reasons, inducing
her, in defiance of my rhetoric, at least to protract her absence. These
reasons I had not previously conceived, and had not, therefore,
attempted, in my letter, to invalidate their force. This omission was
possible to be supplied in a second epistle; but, meanwhile, time would
be lost, and my new arguments might, like the old, fail to convince
her. At least, the tongue was a much more versatile and powerful
advocate than the pen; and, by hastening to her habitation, I might
either compel her to return with me, or ward off danger by my presence,
or share it with her. I finally resolved to join her by the speediest
conveyance.

This resolution was suggested by the meditations of a sleepless night. I
rose with the dawn, and sought out the means of transporting myself,
with most celerity, to the abode of my friend. A stage-boat, accustomed
twice a day to cross New York Bay to Staten Island, was prevailed upon,
by liberal offers, to set out upon the voyage at the dawn of day. The
sky was gloomy, and the air boisterous and unsettled. The wind, suddenly
becoming tempestuous and adverse, rendered the voyage at once tedious
and full of peril. A voyage of nine miles was not effected in less than
eight hours and without imminent and hairbreadth danger of being
drowned.

Fifteen miles of the journey remained to be performed by land. A
carriage, with the utmost difficulty, was procured, but lank horses and
a crazy vehicle were but little in unison with my impatience. We reached
not Amboy ferry till some hours after nightfall. I was rowed across the
Sound, and proceeded to accomplish the remainder of my journey--about
three miles--on foot.

I was actuated to this speed by indefinite but powerful motives. The
belief that my speedy arrival was essential to the rescue of my friend
from some inexplicable injury haunted me with ceaseless importunity. On
no account would I have consented to postpone this precipitate
expedition till the morrow.

I at length arrived at Dudley's farm-house. The inhabitants were struck
with wonder at the sight of me. My clothes were stained by the water by
which every passenger was copiously sprinkled during our boisterous
navigation, and soiled by dust; my frame was almost overpowered by
fatigue and abstinence.

To my anxious inquiries respecting my friend, they told me that her
evenings were usually spent at the mansion, where it was probable she
was now to be found. They were not apprized of any inconvenience or
danger that betided her. It was her custom sometimes to prolong her
absence till midnight.

I could not applaud the discretion nor censure the temerity of this
proceeding. My mind was harassed by unintelligible omens and
self-confuted fears. To obviate the danger and to banish my inquietudes
was my first duty. For this end I hastened to the mansion. Having passed
the intervening hillocks and copses, I gained a view of the front of the
building. My heart suddenly sunk, on observing that no apartment--not
even that in which I knew it was her custom to sit at these unseasonable
hours--was illuminated. A gleam from the window of the study I should
have regarded as an argument at once of her presence and her safety.

I approached the house with misgiving and faltering steps. The gate
leading into a spacious court was open. A sound on one side attracted my
attention. In the present state of my thoughts, any near or unexplained
sound sufficed to startle me. Looking towards the quarter whence my
panic was excited, I espied, through the dusk, a horse grazing, with his
bridle thrown over his neck.

This appearance was a new source of perplexity and alarm. The inference
was unavoidable that a visitant was here. Who that visitant was, and how
he was now employed, was a subject of eager but fruitless curiosity.
Within and around the mansion, all was buried in the deepest repose. I
now approached the principal door, and, looking through the keyhole,
perceived a lamp, standing on the lowest step of the staircase. It shed
a pale light over the lofty ceiling and marble balustrades. No face or
movement of a human being was perceptible.

These tokens assured me that some one was within: they also accounted
for the non-appearance of light at the window above. I withdrew my eye
from this avenue, and was preparing to knock loudly for admission, when
my attention was awakened by some one who advanced to the door from the
inside and seemed busily engaged in unlocking. I started back and waited
with impatience till the door should open and the person issue forth.

Presently I heard a voice within exclaim, in accents of mingled terror
and grief, "Oh, what--what will become of me? Shall I never be released
from this detested prison?"

The voice was that of Constantia. It penetrated to my heart like an
icebolt. I once more darted a glance through the crevice. A figure, with
difficulty recognised to be that of my friend, now appeared in sight.
Her hands were clasped on her breast, her eyes wildly fixed upon the
ceiling and streaming with tears, and her hair unbound and falling
confusedly over her bosom and neck.

My sensations scarcely permitted me to call, "Constantia! For Heaven's
sake, what has happened to you? Open the door, I beseech you."

"What voice is that? Sophia Courtland! O my friend! I am imprisoned!
Some demon has barred the door, beyond my power to unfasten. Ah, why
comest thou so late? Thy succour would have somewhat profited if sooner
given; but now, the lost Constantia--" Here her voice sunk into
convulsive sobs.

In the midst of my own despair, on perceiving the fulfilment of my
apprehensions, and what I regarded as the fatal execution of some
project of Ormond, I was not insensible to the suggestions of prudence.
I entreated my friend to retain her courage, while I flew to Laffert's
and returned with suitable assistance to burst open the door.

The people of the farm-house readily obeyed my summons. Accompanied by
three men of powerful sinews, sons and servants of the farmer, I
returned with the utmost expedition to the mansion. The lamp still
remained in its former place, but our loudest calls were unanswered. The
silence was uninterrupted and profound.

The door yielded to strenuous and repeated efforts, and I rushed into
the hall. The first object that met my sight was my friend, stretched
upon the floor, pale and motionless, supine, and with all the tokens of
death.

From this object my attention was speedily attracted by two figures,
breathless and supine like that of Constantia. One of them was Ormond. A
smile of disdain still sat upon his features. The wound by which he fell
was secret, and was scarcely betrayed by the effusion of a drop of
blood. The face of the third victim was familiar to my early days. It
was that of the impostor whose artifice had torn from Mr. Dudley his
peace and fortune.

An explication of this scene was hopeless. By what disastrous and
inscrutable fate a place like this became the scene of such complicated
havoc, to whom Craig was indebted for his death, what evil had been
meditated or inflicted by Ormond, and by what means his project had
arrived at this bloody consummation, were topics of wild and fearful
conjecture.

But my friend--the first impulse of my fears was to regard her as dead.
Hope and a closer observation outrooted, or, at least, suspended, this
opinion. One of the men lifted her in his arms. No trace of blood or
mark of fatal violence was discoverable, and the effusion of cold water
restored her, though slowly, to life.

To withdraw her from this spectacle of death was my first care. She
suffered herself to be led to the farm-house. She was carried to her
chamber. For a time she appeared incapable of recollection. She grasped
my hand, as I sat by her bedside, but scarcely gave any other tokens of
life.

From this state of inactivity she gradually recovered. I was actuated by
a thousand forebodings, but refrained from molesting her by
interrogation or condolence. I watched by her side in silence, but was
eager to collect from her own lips an account of this mysterious
transaction.

At length she opened her eyes, and appeared to recollect her present
situation, and the events which led to it. I inquired into her
condition, and asked if there were any thing in my power to procure or
perform for her.

"Oh, my friend," she answered, "what have I done, what have I suffered,
within the last dreadful hour! The remembrance, though insupportable,
will never leave me. You can do nothing for my relief. All I claim is
your compassion and your sympathy."

"I hope," said I, "that nothing has happened to load you with guilt or
with shame?"

"Alas! I know not. My deed was scarcely the fruit of intention. It was
suggested by a momentary frenzy. I saw no other means of escaping from
vileness and pollution. I was menaced with an evil worse than death. I
forebore till my strength was almost subdued: the lapse of another
moment would have placed me beyond hope.

"My stroke was desperate and at random. It answered my purpose too well.
He cast at me a look of terrible upbraiding, but spoke not. His heart
was pierced, and he sunk, as if struck by lightning, at my feet. O much
erring and unhappy Ormond! That thou shouldst thus untimely perish! That
I should be thy executioner!"

These words sufficiently explained the scene that I had witnessed. The
violence of Ormond had been repulsed by equal violence. His foul
attempts had been prevented by his death. Not to deplore the necessity
which had produced this act was impossible; but, since this necessity
existed, it was surely not a deed to be thought upon with lasting
horror, or to be allowed to generate remorse.

In consequence of this catastrophe, arduous duties had devolved upon me.
The people that surrounded me were powerless with terror. Their
ignorance and cowardice left them at a loss how to act in this
emergency. They besought my direction, and willingly performed whatever
I thought proper to enjoin upon them.

No deliberation was necessary to acquaint me with my duty. Laffert was
despatched to the nearest magistrate with a letter, in which his
immediate presence was entreated and these transactions were briefly
explained. Early the next day the formalities of justice, in the
inspection of the bodies and the examination of witnesses, were
executed. It would be needless to dwell on the particulars of this
catastrophe. A sufficient explanation has been given of the causes that
led to it. They were such as exempted my friend from legal
animadversion. Her act was prompted by motives which every scheme of
jurisprudence known in the world not only exculpates, but applauds. To
state these motives before a tribunal hastily formed and exercising its
functions on the spot was a task not to be avoided, though infinitely
painful. Remonstrances the most urgent and pathetic could scarcely
conquer her reluctance.

This task, however, was easy, in comparison with that which remained. To
restore health and equanimity to my friend; to repel the erroneous
accusations of her conscience; to hinder her from musing, with eternal
anguish, upon this catastrophe; to lay the spirit of secret upbraiding
by which she was incessantly tormented, which bereft her of repose,
empoisoned all her enjoyments, and menaced not only the subversion of
her peace but the speedy destruction of her life, became my next
employment.

My counsels and remonstrances were not wholly inefficacious. They
afforded me the prospect of her ultimate restoration to tranquillity.
Meanwhile, I called to my aid the influence of time and of a change of
scene. I hastened to embark with her for Europe. Our voyage was
tempestuous and dangerous, but storms and perils at length gave way to
security and repose.

Before our voyage was commenced, I endeavoured to procure tidings of the
true condition and designs of Ormond. My information extended no further
than that he had put his American property into the hands of Mr.
Melbourne, and was preparing to embark for France. Courtland, who has
since been at Paris, and who, while there, became confidentially
acquainted with Martinette de Beauvais, has communicated facts of an
unexpected nature.

At the period of Ormond's return to Philadelphia, at which his last
interview with Constantia in that city took place, he visited
Martinette. He avowed himself to be her brother, and supported his
pretensions by relating the incidents of his early life. A separation at
the age of fifteen, and which had lasted for the same number of years,
may be supposed to have considerably changed the countenance and figure
she had formerly known. His relationship was chiefly proved by the
enumeration of incidents of which her brother only could be apprized.

He possessed a minute acquaintance with her own adventures, but
concealed from her the means by which he had procured the knowledge. He
had rarely and imperfectly alluded to his own opinions and projects, and
had maintained an invariable silence on the subject of his connection
with Constantia and Helena. Being informed of her intention to return to
France, he readily complied with her request to accompany her in this
voyage. His intentions in this respect were frustrated by the dreadful
catastrophe that has been just related. Respecting this event,
Martinette had collected only vague and perplexing information.
Courtland, though able to remove her doubts, thought proper to withhold
from her the knowledge he possessed.

Since her arrival in England, the life of my friend has experienced
little variation. Of her personal deportment and domestic habits you
have been a witness. These, therefore, it would be needless for me to
exhibit. It is sufficient to have related events which the recentness of
your intercourse with her hindered you from knowing but by means of some
formal narrative like the present. She and her friend only were able to
impart to you the knowledge which you have so anxiously sought. In
consideration of your merits and of your attachment to my friend, I have
consented to devote my leisure to this task.

It is now finished; and I have only to add my wishes that the perusal of
this tale may afford you as much instruction as the contemplation of the
sufferings and vicissitudes of Constantia Dudley has afforded to me.
Farewell.

THE END.





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