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Title: Theresa Marchmont, or, the Maid of Honour: A Tale
Author: Gore, Mrs. (Catherine Grace Frances), 1799-1861
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Theresa Marchmont, or, the Maid of Honour: A Tale" ***

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THERESA MARCHMONT,

OR,

THE MAID OF HONOUR.

A TALE.

By Mrs. Charles Gore



"La cour est comme un édifice bâti de marbre; je veux dire qu'elle est
composée d'hommes fort durs, mais fort polis." _LA BRUYERE._


London, MDCCCXXIV



CHAPTER I.


  "Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
   shall never tremble. Hence horrible shadow!
   Unreal mockery, hence!"--_MACBETH_


It was a gloomy evening, towards the autumn of the year 1676, and the
driving blasts which wept from the sea upon Greville Cross, a dreary
and exposed mansion on the coast of Lancashire, gave promise of a stormy
night and added to the desolation which at all traces pervaded its vast
and comfortless apartments.

Greville Cross had formerly been a Benedictine Monastery, and had been
bestowed at the Reformation, together with its rights of Forestry upon
Sir Ralph de Greville, the ancestor of its present possessor. Although
that part of the building containing the chapel and refectory had been
long in ruins, the remainder of the gloomy quadrangle was strongly
marked with the characteristics of its monastic origin. It had never
been a favourite residence of the Greville family; who were possessed of
two other magnificent seats, at one of which, Silsea Castle in Kent,
the present Lord Greville constantly resided; and the Cross, usually
so called from a large iron cross which stood in the centre of the
court-yard, and to which thousand romantic legends were attached, had
received few improvements from the modernizing hand of taste. Indeed
as the faults of the edifice were those of solid construction, it would
have been difficult to render it less gloomy or more convenient by any
change that art could affect. Its massive walls and huge oaken beams
would neither permit the enlargement of its narrow windows, nor the
destruction of its maze of useless corridors; and it was therefore
allowed to remain unmolested and unadorned; unless when an occasional
visit from some member of the Greville family demanded an addition to
its rude attempts of splendour and elegance. But it was difficult to
convey the new tangled luxuries of the capital to this remote spot;
and the tapestry, whose faded hues and moulding texture betrayed the
influence of the sea air, had not yet given plan to richer hangings. The
suite of state apartments as cold and comfortless in the extreme, but
one of the chambers had been recently decorated with more than usual
cost, on the arrival of Lord and Lady Greville, the latter of whom had
never before visited her Northern abode. Its dimensions, which were
somewhat less vast than those of the rest of the suite, rendered it
fitter for modern habits of life; and it had long ensured the preference
of the ladies of the House of Greville, and obtained the name of "the
lady's chamber," by which it is even to this day distinguished. The
walls were not incumbered by the portraits of those grim ancestors who
frowned in mail, or smiled in fardingale on the walls of the adjacent
galleries. The huge chimney had suffered some inhospitable contraction,
and was surmounted with marble; and huge settees, glittering with
gilding and satin, which in their turn would now be displaced by
the hand of Gillow or Oakley, had dispossessed the tall straight
backed-chairs, which in the olden times must have inflicted martyrdom on
the persons of our weary forefathers.

The present visit of Lord Greville to the Cross, was supposed to
originate in the dangerous illness of an old and favourite female
servant, who had held undisturbed control over the household since the
death of the first Lady Greville about ten years before. She had been
from her infancy attached to the family service, and having married a
retainer of the house, had been nurse to Lord Greville, whom she still
regarded with something of a maternal affection. Her husband had died
the preceding year; equally lamented by the master whom he served, and
the domestics whom he ruled; and his wife was now daily declining, and
threatening to follow her aged partner to the grave. It was imagined by
the other members of the establishment, that the old lady had written to
her master, with whom she frequently corresponded, to entreat a personal
interview, in order that she might resign her "steward-ship" into his
hands before her final release from all earthly cares and anxieties; and
in consideration of the length and importance of her services, none were
surprised at the readiness with which her request was granted.

Lord Greville had never visited the North since the death of his first
wife, a young and beautiful woman whom he had tenderly loved, and who
died and was interred at Greville Cross. She left no children, and the
heir, a fine boy in the full bloom of childhood and beauty, who
now accompanied Lord Greville, was the sole offspring of his second
marriage.

Helen, the present Lady Greville, was by birth a Percy; and although her
predecessor had been celebrated at the Court of Charles, as one of the
most distinguished beauties of her time, there were many who considered
her eclipsed by the lovely and gentle being who now filled her place.
She was considerably younger than her husband; but her attachment to
him, and to her child, as well as her naturally domestic disposition,
prevented the ill effects often resulting from disparity of years. Lord
Greville, whose parents were zealous supporters of the royal cause, had
himself shared the banishment of the second Charles; had fought by his
side in his hour of peril, and shared the revelries of his court in
his after days of prosperity. At an age when the judgement is
rarely matured, unless by an untimely encounter with the dangers and
adversities of the world, such as those disastrous times too often
afforded, he had been employed with signal success in several foreign
missions; and it was universally known that the monarch was ever prompt
publicly to acknowledge the benefit he had on many occasions derived
from the prudent counsels of his adherent, as well as from his valour in
the field.

But notwithstanding the bond of union subsisting between them, from
the period of his first marriage, which had taken place under the Royal
auspices, Greville had retired to Silsea Castle; and resisting equally
the invitations of his condescending master, and the entreaties of his
former gay companions, he had never again joined the amusements of the
court. Whether this retirement originated in some disgust occasioned by
the licentious habits and insolent companions of Charles, whose
present mode of life was peculiarly unfitted to the purer taste, and
intellectual character of Lord Greville; or, whether it arose solely
from his natural distaste for the parasitical existence of a courtier,
was uncertain; but it was undeniable that he had faithfully followed the
fortunes of the expatriate king, and even supplied his necessities from
his own resources; and had only withdrawn his services when they were no
longer required.

After the death of Lady Greville, his secluded habits seemed more than
ever confirmed; but when he again became possessed of a bride, whose
youth, beauty, and rank in society, appeared to demand an introduction
to those pleasures which her age had hitherto prevented her from
sharing; it was a matter of no small mortification to Lord and Lady
Percy, to perceive that their son-in-law evinced no disposition to
profit by the Royal favour, or to relinquish the solitude of Silsea, for
the splendours of the Capital. But Helen shared not in their regrets.
She had been educated in retirement; she knew but by report the
licentious, but seductive gaieties of the Court of Charles, and she
had not the slightest wish to increase her knowledge of such dangerous
pleasures. Content with loving, and being beloved by a husband whom she
regarded with profound veneration, her happiness was not disturbed by
a restless search after new enjoyments; and her delighted parents soon
forgot their disappointment in witnessing the contentment of their
child.

For some years succeeding her marriage, they perceived no change in the
state of her feelings, but at length the anxiety of parental love led
them to form surmises, which renewed their former disapprobation of
the conduct of Greville. During their frequent visits to Silsea, they
observed that his love of study and retirement had deepened almost to
moroseness; that his address, always cold and reserved, was becoming
offensively distant; and that he was subject to fits of abstraction, and
at other times to a peevish discontent, which materially threatened
the happiness of their daughter. They also discovered that Helen, whose
playful humour and gaiety of heart had been their solace and amusement,
even from her infancy, was now pensive and dispirited. By degrees
the bright expression of her countenance had lost all that becoming
joyousness of youth, which had been its great attraction, and though
still

  "Sphered in the stillness of those heaven-blue eyes,
   The soul sate beautiful,"

it was the soul of melancholy beauty.

Alarmed and unhappy, Lady Percy wearied her daughter with inquiries as
to the cause of this inauspicious change; but in vain. Helen denied that
any alteration had taken place in her feelings; and declared that the
new and serious tone of her character arose naturally from her advance
in life, and from the duties devolving upon her as a wife and mother.

"Be satisfied, dear madam," said she, "that I am still a happy and
adoring wife. You well know that my affections were not won by an
outward show of splendour and gay accomplishments, nor by the common
attraction of an idle gallantry. It was on Greville's high reputation
for just and honourable principles, and on his manly and noble nature,
that my love was founded, and these will never change;--and if, at
times, unpleasant circumstances should arise, into which my sex and age
unfit me to inquire to throw a cloud over his features, or a transient
peevishness into his humour, it would ill become me--in short,"
continued she in a trembling voice, and throwing her arms around Lady
Percy's neck, to conceal her tears, "in short, dear Madam, you must
remember that dearly, tenderly, dutifully, as Helen loves her mother,
the wife of Greville can have no complaints to make to the Countess of
Percy*."

     *[See "The family Legend"]

But however well the suffering wife might succeed in disguising the
bitterness of wounded affection from her inquiring family, she could
not conceal it from herself. She had devoted herself, in the pride
of youthful beauty, to the most secluded retirement, through romantic
attachment for one who had appeared to return her love with at least
an equal fervour. Her father's house--her own opening and brilliant
prospects--her numerous family connexions and "troops of friends,"--she
had deserted all for him, in her generous confidence in his future
kindness. "His people had become her people, and his God, her God!" She
had fondly expected that his society would atone for every loss, and
compensate every sacrifice; that in the retirements she shared with him,
he would devote some part of his time to the improvement of her mind,
and the development of her character, and that in return for her self
devotion, he would cheerfully grant her his confidence and affection.
But there--"there where she had garnered up her heart,"--she was doomed
to bear the bitterest disappointment. She found herself, on awaking
from her early dream of unqualified mutual affection, treated with
negligence, and at times with unkindness, and though gleams of his
former tenderness would sometimes break through the sullen darkness
of his present disposition, he continually manifested towards both her
child and herself, a discontented and peevish sternness, which wounded
her deeply, and filled her with inquietude. She retained, however,
too deep a veneration for her husband, too strong a sense of his
superiority, to permit her to resent, by the most trifling show of
displeasure, the alteration in his conduct. She forbore to indulge even
in the

  "Silence that chides, and woundings of the eye."

Helen's was no common character. Young, gentle, timid as she was, the
texture of her mind was framed of "sterner stuff;" and she nourished an
intensity of wife-like devotion and endurance, which no unkindness could
tire, and a fixedness of resolve, and high sense of moral rectitude,
which no meaner feeling had yet obtained the power to blemish.

"Let him be as cold and stern as he will," said she to herself in
her patient affliction, "he is my husband--the husband of my free
choice--and by that I must abide. He may have crosses and sorrows of
which I know not; and is it fitting that I should pry into the secrets
of a mind devoted to pursuits and studies in which I am incapable of
sharing? There was a time when I fondly trusted he would seek to qualify
me for his companion and friend; but the enchantment which sealed my
eyes is over, and I must meet the common fate of woman, distrust and
neglect, as best I may."

Anxious to escape the observation of her family, she earnestly requested
Lord Greville's permission to accompany him with her son, when he
suddenly announced his intention of visiting Greville Cross. Her
petition was at first met with a cold negative; but when she ventured to
plead the advice she had received recently from several physicians,
to remove to the sea coast, and reminded him of her frequent
indispositions, and present feebleness of constitution, he looked at her
for a time with astonishment at the circumstance of her thus exhibiting
so unusual an opposition to his will, and afterwards with sincere and
evident distress at the confirmation borne by her faded countenance to
the truth of her representation.

"Thou art so patient a sufferer," he replied "that I am somewhat too
prone to forget the weakness of thy frame--but be content--I must be
alone in this long and tedious journey."

The tears which rose in her eyes were her only remonstrance, and her
husband stood regarding her for some minutes in silence, but with the
most apparent signs of mental agitation on his countenance.

"Helen," said he at length, in a low, earnest tone, "Helen, thou
wert worthy of a better fate than to be linked to the endurance of my
waywardness; but God who sees thine unmurmuring patience, will give
thee strength to meet thy destiny. Thou hast scarcely enough of womanly
weakness in thee to shrink from idle terrors, or I might strive to
appall thee," he added faintly smiling, "with a description of the
gloom and discomfort of thine unknown northern mansion; but if thou art
willing to bear with its scanty means of accommodation, as well as with
thy husband's variable temper, come with him to the Cross."

Helen longed to throw herself into his arms as in happier days, when he
granted her petition, but she had been more than once repulsed from
his bosom, and she therefore contented herself with thanking him
respectfully; and in another week, they became inmates of Greville
Cross.

The evening whose stormy and endless commencement I have before
described, was the fourth after her arrival in the North; and
notwithstanding the anxiety she had felt for a change of habitation, she
could not disguise from herself that there was an air of desolation,
a general aspect of dreariness about her new abode which justified
the description afforded by her husband. As she crossed the portal, a
sensation of terror ill-defined, but painful and overwhelming, smote
upon her heart, such as we feel in the presence of a secret enemy,
and Lord Greville's increasing uneasiness and abstraction since he had
returned to the mansion of his forefathers, did not tend to enliven
its gloomy precincts. The wind beat wildly against the casement of
the apartment in which they sat, and which although named "the lady's
chamber," afforded none of those feminine luxuries, which are now to be
found in the most remote parts of England, in the dwellings of the
noble and wealthy. By the side of a huge hearth, where the crackling and
blazing logs imparted the only cheerful sound or sight in the apartment,
in a richly-carved oaken chair emblazoned with the armorial bearings
of his house, sat Lord Greville, lost in silent contemplation. A chased
goblet of wine with which he occasionally moistened his lips, stood on a
table beside him, on which an elegantly-fretted silver lamp was burning;
and while it only emitted sufficient light to render the gloom of the
spacious chamber still more apparent, it threw a strong glare upon his
expressive countenance and noble figure, and rendered conspicuous that
richness of attire which the fashion of those stately days demanded
from "the magnates of the land;" and which we now only admire amid the
mummeries of theatrical pageant, or on the glowing canvas of Vandyck.
His head rested on his hand, and while Lady Greville who was seated on
an opposite couch, was apparently engrossed by the embroidery-frame
over which she leant, his attention was equally occupied by his son, who
stood at her knee, interrupting her progress by twining his little
hands in the slender ringlets which profusely overhung her work, and by
questions which betrayed the unsuspicious sportiveness of his age.

"Mother," said the boy, "are we to remain all winter in this ruinous
den? Do you know Margaret says, that some of these northern sea winds
will shake it down over our heads one stormy night; and that she would
as soon lie under the ruins, as be buried alive in its walls. Now I must
own I would rather return to Silsea, and visit my hawks, and Caesar,
and--"

"Hush! sir, you prate something too wildly; nor do I wish to hear you
repeat Margaret's idle observations."

"But mother, I know you long yourself to walk once again in your own
dear sunshiny orangery?"

"My Hugh," said Lady Greville without attending to his question, "has
Margaret shewn you the descent to the walk below the cliffs, and have
you brought me the shells you promised to gather?"

"How? with the spring tide beating the foot of the rocks, and the sea
raging so furiously that the very gulls dared not take their delicious
perch upon the waves. Tomorrow perhaps--"

"What now, my Hugh, afraid to venture? When I walked on the sands at
noon, there was a bowshot spare."

"No! mother, no, not afraid, not afraid to venture a fall, or meet a
sprinkling of sea spray, and good truth I have enough to do with fears
in doors, here in this grim old mansion, without--"

"Fears?"--

"Yes, fears, dear mother," said the boy, looking archly round at his
attendant, who waited in the back ground, and who vainly sought by signs
to silence her unruly charge.

"Do you know that the figure of King Herod, cruel Herod, the murderer of
his wife, and the slayer of the innocents, stalks down every night from
the tapestry in my sleeping room and wanders through the galleries at
midnight; and than the cross, where the three Jews were executed a long,
long time ago, in the reign of King John I think; they say that it drops
blood on the morning of the Holy Friday;--and then mother, and this is
really true," continued the child, changing from his playful manner to
a tone of great earnestness, "there is the figure of a lady in rich
attire, but pale, very pale, who glides through the apartments--yes;
Herbert and Richard and several of the serving men have seen it; and
mistress Alice, poor old soul once was seen to address it, but she would
allow no one to question her on the subject; and they say it was her
doom, and that she must therefore die of her present sickness. Ay: 'twas
in this very room too--the lady's chamber."

"Boy," interrupted Lord Greville sternly, "if thou canst find no
better subject for thy prate, than these unbecoming fooleries, be
silent--Helen! why should you encourage his forwardness, and girlish
love of babbling? Go hence, sirrah! take thyself to rest; and you,
Margaret," added he, turning angrily to the woman, "remember that from
this hour I hear no more insolent remarks, on any dwelling it may suit
your betters to inhabit, nor of this imp's cowardly apprehensions."

Margaret led her young charge from the room; who, however sad his heart
at being thus abruptly dismissed, walked proud and erect with all the
welling consciousness of wounded pride. Helen followed him to the door
with her eyes; and when they fell again upon her work, they were too dim
with tears to distinguish the colours of the flowers she was weaving.
Lord Greville had again relapsed into silent musing; and as she
occasionally stole a glance towards him, she perceived traces of a
severe mental struggle on his countenance; the muscles of his fine
throat worked convulsively, his lips quivered, yet still he spoke not.
At length his eyes closed, and he seemed as if seeking to lose his own
reflections in sleep.

"I will try the spell which drove the evil spirit from the mind of the
King of Israel," thought the sad and terrified wife; "music hath often
power to soothe the darkness of the soul;" and she tuned her lute,
and brought forth the softest of its tones. At length her charm was
successful; Lord Greville slept; and while she watched with all the
intense anxiety of alarmed affection, the unquiet slumbers which
distorted one of the finest countenances that sculptor or painter ever
conceived, she affected to occupy herself with her instrument lest he
should awake, and be displeased to find her attention fixed on himself.

With the sweetest notes of a "voice ever soft and low, an excelling
thing in woman," she murmured the following song, which was recorded in
her family to have been composed by her elder brother, on parting from
a lady to whom he was attached, previous to embarkment on the expedition
in which he fell, and to which it alludes:


   Parte la nave
   Spiegan le vele
   Vento crudele
   Mi fa partir.
   Addio Teresa,
   Teresa, addio!
   Piacendo a Dio
   Ti rivedrò.
   Non pianger bella,
   Non pianger, No!--
   Chè al mio ritorno
   Ti sposerò.

   Il Capitano
   Mi chiama a bordo;
   Io faccio il sordo
   Per non partir!
   Addio Teresa,
   Teresa, Addio!
   Piacendo a Dio
   Ti rivedrò.
   Non pianger bella,
   Non pianger, No!--
   Chè al mio ritorno
   Ti sposerò.

   Vado a levante
   Vado a ponente
   Se trovo gente
   Ti scriverò.
   Addio Teresa,
   Teresa, Addio;
   Piacendo a Dio
   Ti rivedrò.
   Non pianger bella,
   Non pianger, No!--
   Chè al mio ritorno
   Ti sposerò.

Helen had reached the concluding cadence of her soft and melancholy
song, when raising her eyes from the strings to her still sleeping
husband, she beheld with panic-struck and breathless amazement, a
female figure, standing opposite resting her hand on the back of his
chair--silent, and motionless, and with fixed and glassy eyes gazing
mournfully on herself. She saw--yes!--distinctly saw, as described by
little Hugh, "a Lady in rich attire, but pale, very pale;" and in the
stillness and gloom of the apartment and the hour,

  "'Twas frightful there to see
   A lady richly clad as she,
   Beautiful exceedingly."

The paleness of that pensive face did not lessen its loveliness, and the
hair which hung in bright curls on her shoulders and gorgeous apparel,
was white and glossy as silver. Helen gazed for a moment spell-bound;
for she beheld in that countenance without the possibility of doubt, the
resemblance of the deceased Lady Greville, whose portrait, in a similar
dress, hung in the picture gallery at Silsea Castle. She shuddered; for
the eyes of the spectre remained steadfastly fixed upon her; and its
lips moved as if about to address her--"Mother of God--protect me!"
exclaimed Helen convulsively, and she fell insensible on the floor.



CHAPTER II.


  "Sorrow seems pleased to dwell with so much sweetness;
   And now and then a melancholy smile
   Breaks loose like lightning on a winter's night
   And shows a moment's day."--_DRYDEN_


On the succeeding morning, when Lady Greville recovered sufficiently
from a succession of fainting fits to collect her remembrances of the
dreadful cause of her illness, she eagerly demanded of her attendants
in what manner, and by whom, she had been placed in her usual
sleeping-room. They replied, that Lord Greville had conveyed her there
insensible in his arms; and had summoned them in great agitation to her
assistance. He had since frequently sent to inquire after her health,
and had expressed great delight when the last message, announcing her
recovery, had reached him. But he came not himself to watch over her;
and though the shock she had received, had brought on an alarming degree
of fever, which confined her for several days to her room, he never
visited her chamber. Helen was the more surprised and pained by this
neglect, as she knew he made frequent visits to the sick bed of old
Alice, and she wept secretly and bitterly over this fresh proof of his
alienated love.


During the tedious hours of illness, the mental sufferings of the
neglected wife far exceeded those of her corporal frame. She could
reflect but on one subject--one idea, one pervading horrible idea had
taken possession of her soul. She felt that through every person to whom
she might impart her tale would listen with incredibility, and mockery,
that the truth of that awful visitation could not be questioned by her
own better judgment. She considered herself one

  "To whom the world unknown
   In all its shadowy shapes is shown."

She shuddered over the remembrance of the past, she trembled from
apprehension of the future. The approach of night was beginning to
be terrible to her feelings; the very air appeared, to her disordered
imagination, instinct with being; low whisperings seemed to approach her
ears; and if the female attendant whom she had stationed by her bedside
disappeared for a moment, she instantly fancied she saw the noble figure
approach, that pale soft countenance once more gazing upon her, and
those cold lips about to address her; and in an agony of approaching
insanity, she prayed aloud to the God of all Grace, for deliverance
from the torture that assailed her. Her prayers were heard; for as
her constitution recovered from the shocks it had sustained, her mind
gradually returned to its wonted serenity; the impression of the event
became less vivid, and in less than a week she was enabled to resume her
accustomed habits.

Her return was more warmly greeted by Lord Greville than she had
expected. There was something of "long syne," in his manner of welcoming
her to her sitting apartment, which rejoiced her warm and affectionate
heart. She did not, however, approach it without trembling; for it was
the lady's chamber. Her feelings were fortunately too much occupied by
the unusual kindness displayed by Lord Greville, and as she silently and
gratefully pressed the hand which led her to her seat, she was thankful
that he made no inquiries into the particular cause of her illness. She
knew that he treated all supernatural terrors with especial contempt,
and considered them as fit subjects for the discussion of the low-minded
and ignorant. She had formerly heard him reason soundly, and express
himself strongly, on the subject, and her own scepticism on the
possibility of spectral visitation, was principally owing to the
arguments she had heard from his lips. Frequently had he praised her in
former times, for her composure of mind in peril, and for her unfeminine
superiority to all ideal terrors; and she did not now dare provoke
his surprise and contempt by a revocation of her principles, or by a
relation of the mysterious event which had befallen her.

As soon as he left her, she descended into the court enclosed by the
quadrangle of the mansion; and as long as daylight lasted she continued
to walk there, in order to avoid the solitude of her own dreaded
apartment. As she traversed the pavement with hurried steps, she gazed
on the huge iron cross, and no longer regarded with indifference the
terrific legends attached to it. But at length the closing evening,
accompanied by tempestuous winds, compelled her to retire to the house.

Once more she found herself installed for the evening in the abhorred
chamber. All was as before--her husband was seated opposite to her in
the same chair, by the same lamp-light--the ticking of the time-piece
was again painfully audible from the wearisome stillness of the
apartment; and her own trembling hands were again lingering over the
embroidery-frame from which she dared not lift her eyes. Her heart beat
painfully, her breath became oppressed, and she ventured to steal a look
at her husband, who to her surprise was regarding her with an air
of affectionate interest. Relieved for a moment, she returned to her
occupation; but her former terrors soon overcame her. She would have
given worlds to escape from that room, from that dwelling, and wandered
she cared not how, she knew not wither, so she might be rescued from the
sight of that awful figure, from the sound of that dreaded voice.

The conflict in her mind became at length too strong for endurance;
and suddenly flinging down her work, she threw herself at her husband's
feet, and burying her face in his knees she sobbed aloud; "save me from
myself--save me, save me from _her_!" He raised her gently, and folded
her in his arms. "Save thee from whom, my beloved Helen?"

"Greville, believe me or not as thou wilt, but as the Almighty hears and
judges me, I have beheld the apparition of thy wife. I saw her freely,
distinctly, standing beside thee even where thou sittest; clearly
visible as the form of a living being; and she would have spoken, and
doubtless revealed some dreadful secret, had not the weakness of my
nature refused to support me. Oh! Greville, take me from this room--take
me from this house--I am not able to bear the horrible imaginings
which have filled my mind since that awful hour. My very brain is
maddened--oh! Greville, take me hence."

Even in the agony of her fear, Helen started with delighted surprise to
feel the tears of her husband falling on her hand. Yes! he,--the stern
Greville, the estranged husband, moved by the deep distress manifested
in the appearance of his wife, acknowledged his sympathy by the first
tears shed in her presence.

"This is a mere phantasm of the brain," said he at length, attempting to
regain his composure; "the coinage of a lively imagination which loves
to deceive itself by--but no," continued he, observing her incredulous
and agonized expression of countenance, "no, my Helen, I will not longer
rack thy generous mind by these sufferings, however bitter the truth may
be to utter or to hear. Helen! it was no vision--no idle dream,--Helen,
it was a living form, a breathing curse to thee and me! Thou who hast
accused me of insensibility to thy charms, and to thine endearing
affection, judge of the strength of my love by the labyrinth of sin into
which it hath betrayed me. Helen, my wife still lives, and I am not thy
lawful husband."

It was many hours before the unfortunate Lady Greville sufficiently
recovered her composure to understand and feel the full extent of the
fatal intelligence she had received, and the immediate bearing it must
have upon her happiness, her rights, and those of her child. As by
degrees the full measure of her misery unfolded to her comprehension,
she fell into no paroxysm of angry grief; she vented her despair in no
revilings against the guilty Greville. Sorrowfully indeed, but calmly,
she requested to be made acquainted with the whole extent of her
miserable destiny.

"Let me know the worst," said she, "I have been long, too long deceived,
and the only mercy you can now bestow upon me is an unreserved and
unqualified confidence."

But Lord Greville could not trust himself to make so painful a
communication in words, and after passing the night in writing, he
delivered to her the following relation:--


LORD GREVILLE'S HISTORY

"I need not dwell upon the occurrences of my childhood, I need
not relate the events which rendered my youth equally eventful and
distinguished. My early life was passed so entirely in the immediate
service of my sovereign, and in participation of the troubles and
dangers which disastrous times and a rebellious people heaped upon his
head, that the tenor of my life has been as public as his own.

"Yet Helen, forgive me for saying that I cannot even now, in this my
day of humiliation, but glory in the happy fortune which crowned with
success my efforts in the royal cause, both in the field and in the
cabinet, and won for me at once the affection of my king, and the
approbation of my fellow-countrymen, when I remember that to these
flattering testimonies I owe not only the friendship of your father, but
the first affections of his child. How frequently have you owned to me,
in our early days of joy and love, that long before we met, my public
reputation had excited the strongest interest in your mind--those days,
those happy days, when I was rich alike in the warmest devotion of
popular favour, and the approval of--but I must not permit myself to
indulge in fond retrospections; I must steel my heart, and calmly and
coldly relate the progress of my misery and guilt, and of its present
remorse and punishment.

"You have heard that soon after the restoration of Charles Stuart to the
throne of his ancestors, I was sent on a mission of great public
moment to the Hague, where I remained for nearly two years, and having
succeeded in the object of government, I returned home shortly after the
union of the king with the princess of Portugal. I was warmly received
by his majesty, and presented by him to the young queen, as one whom
he regarded equally as an affectionate friend, and as one of the most
faithful servants of the crown. Thus introduced to her notice, it is not
wonderful that my homage was most graciously received, and that I was
frequently invited to renew it by admission into the evening circle at
Whitehall. The very night after my arrival in London, I was called upon
to assist at a masque given on the anniversary of the royal nuptials,
at which their majesties alone, and their immediate attendants, were
unmasqued. The latter, indeed, were habited in character; but among
the splendidly-attired group of the maids of honour, I was surprised at
perceiving one, in a costume of deep mourning. Her extreme beauty and
the grace of her demeanour excited an immediate interest in her favour;
and her sable suit only served to render yet more brilliant, the
exquisite fairness and purity of her complexion.

"It was not so much the regular cast of her features as their sweet and
pensive expression which produced so strong an effect on the feelings.
At the moment I was first struck by her appearance, I happened to be
conversing with His Majesty who was making the tour of the apartment,
graciously leaning on my arm; and my attention was so completely
captivated by her surpassing loveliness, that the king could not fail
to perceive my absence of mind. 'How now, Charles, how now,' said he
kindly, 'twenty-four hours in the capital, and beauty-struck already?
which among our simple English maidens hath the merit of thus gaining
the approval of thy travelled eyes?--what Venus hath bribed the purer
taste of our new Paris? Ha! let me see--Lady Joscelyn? Lady--No! by
heaven,' said he following my looks, 'it is as I could wish, Theresa
Marchmont herself. How, man--knowest thou not the daughter of our old
comrade, who fell at my side in the unfortunate affair at Worcester?'

"The king took on an early opportunity of making my admiration known
to Her Majesty; and of requesting her permission for my introduction to
Miss Marchmont; who, although born of a family distinguished only by
its loyalty to the house of Stuart, having been recommended to the royal
attention from the loss of her only surviving parent in its cause, had
sufficiently won the good will of the monarch, by her beauty and elegant
accomplishments, to obtain a distinguished post about the person of the
new Queen.

"From this period, admitted as I was into the domestic circle of the
Royal household, I had frequent opportunities afforded me of improving
my acquaintance with Theresa; whose gentle and interesting manners more
than completed the conquest which her beauty had begun. Helen, I had
visited many foreign courts, and had been familiarized with the reigning
beauties of our own, at that time eminently distinguished by the
brilliancy of female beauty, but never in any station of life did
I behold a being so lovely in the expressive sadness of her fine
countenance, so graceful in every movement of her person. But this was
not all. Theresa possessed beyond other women that retiring modesty
of demeanour, that unsullied purity of look and speech, which made her
sufficiently remarkable in the midst of a licentious court, and among
companions whose levity at least equalled their loveliness. On making
more particular inquiries respecting her family connexions, I found that
they were strictly respectable, but of the middle class of life; and
that she had passed the period intervening between the death of her
father, General Marchmont, and her appointment at court, in the family
of an aged relative in the county of Devon, by whom indeed she had been
principally educated. It was at the dying instigation of this, her last
surviving friend and protector, that her destitute situation had been
represented to the king by the Lady Wriothesly, to whose good offices
she was indebted for her present honourable station. Being however, as
it were, friendless as well as dowerless, and backed in my suit by the
powerful assistance of the king's approbation, I did not anticipate much
opposition to my pretensions to the hand of Miss Marchmont, which
had now become the object of my dearest ambition. I knew myself to be
naturally formed for domestic life; and while the disastrous position
of public affairs had obliged me to waste the days of my early youth
in camps or courts, and in exile from my own hereditary possessions,
I resolved to pass the evening of my life in the repose of a happy and
well-ordered home in my native country.

"To the vitiated taste of the gallants of the court, many of whom might
have proved powerful rivals, had they been so inclined, marriage had
no attractions. The acknowledged distaste of Charles for a matrimonial
life, and his avowed infidelities, sanctioned the disdain of his
dissolute companions for all the more holy and endearing ties of
existence. I had therefore little to fear from competition; indeed among
the maids of honour of the Queen, whose situation threw them into
hourly scenes of revelry and dissipation, Theresa Marchmont, who was
universally acknowledged to be the loveliest of the train, excited less
than any those attentions of idle gallantry, which however, sought and
prized by her livelier companions, are offensive to true modesty. I
attributed this flattering distinction to the respect ensured by the
extreme _reténue_ and propriety of her manners, but I have had reason
since to ascribe the reserve of the courtiers to a less commendable
motive. On occasion of a masqued festival given by Her Majesty on her
birth-day at Kew, the king, in distributing the characters, allotted
to Miss Marchmont that of Diana. 'Your Majesty' said the Duchess of
Grafton, 'has judiciously assigned the part of the frigid goddess, to
the only statue of snow visible among us. _Mademoiselle se renchérit sur
son petit air de province, si glacial et si arrangé_,' continued
she, turning to the Comt de Gramont. 'Madam,' said the king, bowing
respectfully to Theresa, with all that captivating grace of address for
which he was distinguished, 'if every frozen statue were as lovely and
attractive as this, I should forget to wish for their animation; and
become myself a votary of the

"'Queen and huntress, chaste and fair!'

"'Ay,' whispered the Duke of Buckingham, 'even at the perilous risk of
being termed Charles, king and Lunatic.'

"This sobriquet of Diana had passed into a proverb; and such was
Theresa's character for coldness and reserve, that I attributed to her
temper of mind, the evident indifference with which she received my
attentions. Meeting her as I did, either in public assemblies, or in
the antechamber of the Queen among the other ladies in waiting, I had
no opportunity of making myself more particularly acquainted with her
sentiments and character. When I addressed her in the evening circle,
although she readily entered into conversation on general subjects,
and displayed powers of mind of no common order, yet, if I attempted
to introduce any topic, which might lead to a discussion of our mutual
situation, she relapsed into silence. At times her countenance became so
pensive, so touchingly sorrowful, that I could not help suspecting she
nourished some secret and hidden cause of grief; and once on hinting
this opinion to the king, who frequently in our familiar intercourse
rallied me on my passion for Theresa, and questioned me as to the
progress of my suit, he told me that Miss Marchmont's dejection was
generally attributed to her regret, for the loss of Lady Wriothesly, the
kind patroness who had first recommended her to his protection, and by
whose death, immediately before my return from Holland, she had lost her
only surviving friend. 'It remains to be proved,' added he, 'whether her
lingering affection for the memory of an old woman will yield readily to
her dawning attachment for her future husband.'

"Another suspicion sometimes crossed my mind, but in so uncertain a
form, that I could scarcely myself resolve the nature of the evil I
apprehended. I observed that Theresa constantly and anxiously watched
the eye of the king, whenever she formed a part of the royal suite; and
if she perceived his attention fixed on herself, or if he chanced to
approach the spot where she stood, she would turn abruptly to me, and
enter into conversation with an air of _empressement_, as though to
confirm his opinion of our mutual good understanding. Upon one occasion
as I passed through the gallery leading to the Queen's apartments, I
found His Majesty standing in the embrasure of a window, in earnest
conversation with Miss Marchmont. They did not at first perceive me; and
I had leisure to observe that Theresa was agitated even to tears. She
turned round at the sound of approaching footsteps, but betrayed no
distress at my surprising her in this unusual situation. In reply
to some observation of the King's, she answered with a respectful
inclination, 'Sir, I will not forget;' and left the gallery; while
Charles, gaily taking my arm, led me into the adjoining saloon, and
informed me that he had been pleading my cause with my fair tormentor,
as he was pleased to term her.

"'The worst torment I can be called to endure, Sire,' said I haughtily,
'is longer suspense; and I must earnestly request your Majesty's
gracious intercession of Miss Marchmont's early reply to my application
for the honour of her hand. Should it be refused, I must further entreat
your Majesty's permission to resign the post I so unworthily hold, in
order that I may be enabled to pass some years on the continent.'

"Charles appeared both startled and displeased by the firm tone of
resolution I had assumed. 'Were I inclined for idle altercation,'
answered he coldly, 'I might argue something for the dignity of the
fair sex, who have ever claimed their prescriptive right of holding us
lingering in their chains; and Lord Greville would do well to remember
that his services are too important to his country to be held on the
caprices of a silly girl's affected coyness. But be it so--since you
are so petulant a lover, be prepared when you join her Majesty's circle
to-night, to expect Miss Marchmont's answer.'

"It happened that there was a splendid fête given at the palace that
evening in honour of the arrival of a French ambassador. When I entered
the ball-room I caught the eye of the king, who was standing apart, with
his hand resting negligently on the shoulder of the Duke of Buckingham,
and indulging in an immoderate gaiety apparently caused by some
'foolborn jest,' of the favourite's; in which, I know not why, I
immediately suspected myself to be concerned. On perceiving my arrival
however, Charles forsook his station, and approaching me with the
graceful ease which rendered him at all times the most finished
gentlemen of his court, he took me affectionately by the hand, and
congratulating me on my good fortune, he led me to Theresa who was
seated behind her companions. Occupied as I was with my own happiness,
and with the necessity of immediately expressing my gratitude both to
Theresa and the King, I could not avoid being struck by the dreadful
paleness of her agitated countenance which contrasted frightfully
with her brilliant attire; for I now saw her for the first time out of
mourning for Lady Wriothesly. When I entreated her to confirm by words
the happy tidings I had learned from his Majesty, who had again returned
to the enlivening society of his noble buffoon, she spoke with an
unfaltering voice, but in a tone of such deep dejection, and with a
fixed look of such sorrowful resolution that I could scarcely refrain,
even in that splendid assemblage, from throwing myself at her feet, and
imploring her to tell me whether her consent had not been obtained by an
undue exertion of the royal authority. But there was always in Theresa
an apparent dread of every cause of emotion and excitement, which
made me feel that a wilful disturbance of her calm serenity would be
sacrilege.

"During the short period intervening between her consent and our
marriage, which by the command of the king, was unnecessarily and even
indecorously hastened, these doubts, these fears, constantly recurred to
my mind whenever I found myself in the presence of Theresa, but during
my absence I listened to nothing but the flattering insinuations of my
own heart, and I succeeded in persuading myself that her coldness arose
solely from maidenly reserve, and from the annoyance of being too
much the object of public attention. I remembered the sweetness of her
manner, when one day in reply to some fond anticipation of my future
happiness, she assured me, although she could not promise me at once
that ardour of affection which my present enthusiasm seemed to require,
that if a grateful and submissive wife could satisfy my wishes, I should
be possessed of her entire devotion. But although thus reassured, I
could scarcely divest myself of apprehension, and on the morning of our
nuptials, which took place in the Royal Chapel, in presence of the whole
court, her countenance wore a look of such deadly, such fixed despair,
that the joy even of that happy moment when I was about to receive the
hand of the woman I adored, before the altar of God, was completely
obliterated.

"She had been adorned by the hand of the Queen, by whom she was fondly
beloved, with all the splendour and elegance which could enrich her
lovely figure; and in the foldings of her bridal veil, her countenance
assumed a cast of such angelic beauty, that even Charles, as he
presented me with her hand, paused for a moment in delighted emotion
to gaze upon her. But even thus late as it was, and embarrassed by the
royal presence, I was so pained by her tears that I could keep silence
no longer. 'Theresa,' I whispered to her as we approached the altar, 'if
this marriage be not the result of your own free will, speak--it is
not yet too late. Heed not these preparations--fear not the King's
displeasure, I will take all upon myself. Speak to me dearest, deal with
me sincerely.--Theresa, are you willing to be mine?' She only replied by
bending her knee upon the gorgeous cushion before her. 'Hush!' said she
in a suppressed tone, 'hush! my lord--let us pray to the Almighty for
support,' and the service instantly began."



CHAPTER III.


  "Let not the Heavens hear these tell-tale women,
   Rail on the Lord's anointed."--_RICHARD III._


"The month which followed our marriage we passed in the happy retirement
of Silsea; and there for the first time I became acquainted with the
real character of my Theresa. Her beauty had indeed been the glory of
the court, but it was only amid the privacy of domestic life that the
accomplishments of her cultivated mind, and the submissive gentleness
of her disposition became apparent. Timid almost to a fault, I sometimes
doubted whether to attribute her implicit obedience to my wishes, to the
habit of early dependence upon the caprice of those around her, or to
the resignation of a broken spirit. Still she did not appear unhappy.
The wearisome publicity and etiquette of the life she had been hitherto
compelled to lead, was most unsuitable to her taste for retirement; and
she enjoyed equally with myself the calm repose of a quiet home. When
she made it her first request to me that I would take the earliest
opportunity to retire from public life, and by settling on my
patrimonial estate release her from the slavery of a court, all my
former apprehensions vanished; and I began to flatter myself that
the love I had so fondly, so frankly, bestowed, had met with an
equal return. Prompt as we are to seize on every point which yields
confirmation to our secret wishes, and eagerly credulous, where the
entire happiness of our lives is dependent on our wilful self-deception,
is it wonderful that I mistook the calm fortitude of a well-regulated
mind for content, and the gratitude of a warm heart for affection? I
inquired not, I dared not inquire minutely into the past; I shrunk from
any question that might again disturb the serenity of my mind by jealous
fears. 'I will not speak of past storms on so bright a day,' said I
secretly while I gazed upon my gentle Theresa; 'it might break the
spell.' Alas! the spell endured not long; for however unwillingly, we
were now obliged to resume our situation at Whitehall.

"Our re-appearance at court was marked by the most flattering attentions
on the part of the King and Queen. Several brilliant fêtes were given
by their Majesties on occasion of our marriage; and I began to fear that
the homage which everywhere seemed to await my young and lovely bride,
and the promising career of royal favour which opened to her view, might
weaken her inclination for the retirement we mediated. To me however she
constantly renewed her entreaties for a furtherance of her former wishes
on the subject; in consequence of which I declined the gracious offers
of his Majesty, who was at this time particularly desirous that I should
take a more active part in public measures, and accept a situation in
the new ministry which would formerly have placed the utmost bounds to
my ambition. I was now however only waiting a favourable opportunity, to
retire altogether to the happy fire-side, where I trusted to dream away
the evening of my days in the society of my own family.

"In this position of our affairs, it chanced that we were both in
attendance on the Queen at Kew; where one evening a chosen few,
distinguished by her Majesty's favour, formed a select circle. The
conversation turned upon music, and the Queen who had been describing
with national partiality the beauty of the hymns sung by the Portuguese
mariners, suddenly addressing me, observed that since she left her
native country she had heard no vocal music which had given her pleasure
except from the lips of Miss Marchmont: 'I cannot' said she kindly
smiling, 'as you may perceive, forget the name of one whose society I
prized so highly; but if 'Lady Greville' will pardon my inadvertence,
and oblige me by singing one of those airs with which she was wont
formerly to charm me to sleep when I suffered either mental or bodily
affliction, I will in turn forgive _you_, my lord, for robbing me of the
attendance of my friend.'

"Theresa instantly obeyed, and while she hung over her instrument her
attitude was so graceful, that the Queen again observed to me, 'we must
have our Theresa seen by Lely in that costume, and thus occupied she
would make a charming study for his pencil; and I promise myself the
pleasure of possessing it as a lasting memorial of my young friend.'
The portrait to which this observation gave rise, you must have seen
yourself, my Helen, in the gallery at Silsea castle.

"While I was thus engaged by her Majesty, I observed the Duke of
Buckingham approach my wife with an air of deference bordering on irony;
he appeared to make some unpleasant request which he affected to urge
with an earnestness beyond the rules of gallantry or good breeding, and
which she refused with an appearance of haughtiness I had never before
seen her excise. He than respectfully addressed the Queen, and entreated
her intercession with Lady Greville for a favourite Italian air, one,
he said, which her Majesty had probably never enjoyed the happiness of
hearing--but before the Queen could reply, before I had time to inquire
into the cause of the agony and shame which were mingled in Lady
Greville's looks, she covered her brow with her hands, and exclaimed
with hysteric violence, 'No, never more--never again. Alas! it is too
late.'

"The queen, herself too deeply skilled in the sorrows of a wounded
heart, appeared warmly to compassionate the distress which had robbed
her favourite of all presence of mind; and rising evidently to divert
the attention of the circle, whose malignant smiles were instantly
repressed, she invited us to follow her into the adjoining gallery, at
that time occupied by Sir Peter Lely for the completion of his exquisite
series of portraits of the beauties of Charles's court. In their own
idle comments and petty jealousies arising from the resemblances before
them, Lady Greville was forgotten.

"While I was deliberating the following morning, in what manner I could
with delicacy interrogate Theresa on the extraordinary scene I had
witnessed, I was surprised by her sudden but firm declaration that
she could not, _would not_ longer remain in the royal suite, and she
concluded by imploring me on her knees, as I valued her peace of mind,
her health, her salvation, to remove her instantly to Silsea. 'I have
obtained her Majesty's private sanction,' said she, shewing me a billet
in the hand-writing of the queen, 'and it only remains for you publicly
to give in our resignation.' The letter was written in French, and
contained the following words: 'Go, my beloved Theresa--dearly as I
prize your society, I feel that our mutual happiness can only be ensured
by the retirement you so prudently meditate. May it be a consolation
to you to reflect that you must ever be remembered with respect and
gratitude by, 'Your affectionate friend.'

"The terms of this billet surprised me, and I began to request an
explanation, when Theresa interrupted me by saying hastily, 'Do not
question me, for I cannot at present open my mind to you--but satisfy
yourself that when I linked my fate to yours in the sight of God and
man, your honour and happiness became precious to me as my own; and
may He desert me in my hour of need, if in aught I fail to consult your
reputation and peace of mind. Let me pray of you to leave this place
without delay. I know that you will urge against me the benefit of
avoiding the various surmises which will arise from the apparent
precipitancy of our retreat; but trust to me, my lord, that it is a
necessary measure, and that we have nothing to fear from the opposition
of the king.

"The pretext we adopted for our hasty retirement from public life was
the delicate state of Lady Greville's health, who was within a few
months of becoming a mother; and having hastily passed through the
necessary ceremonies, we again exchanged the tumults of the capital
for the exquisite enjoyments and freedom of home. As we traversed
the venerable avenue at Silsea, amid the acclamations of my assembled
tenantry, I formed the resolution never again to desert the dwelling of
my ancestors; but having now entered into the bonds of domestic life,
to seek from them alone the future enjoyments of existence. I had in
one respect immediate reason to congratulate myself on the change of
our destiny, for Theresa, whose health had for some months gradually
declined, soon regained her former strength in the quiet of the country.
She occupied herself constantly in some active employment. The interests
of the sick, the poor, and the decrepit, led her frequently to the
village; where I doubt not you have often heard her named with gratitude
and affection; and when she returned to the castle, the self-content of
gratified benevolence spread a glow over her countenance which almost
dispelled the clouds of sorrow still lingering there. All went well with
us, and if I dared not flatter myself with being passionately beloved, I
felt assured that I should in time obtain her entire confidence.

"I was beginning to look forward with the happy anxiety of affection to
the event of Lady Greville's approaching confinement, when one morning I
was surprised by the arrival of a courier with a letter from the Duke of
Buckingham. I was astonished that he should take the trouble of renewing
a correspondence with me; as a very slight degree of friendship had
originally subsisted between us; and the displeasure publicly testified
by Charles on my hasty removal from his service, had hitherto freed
me from the importunities of my courtier acquaintance. The letter was
apparently one of mere complimentary inquiry after the health of Lady
Greville, to whom there was an enclosure, addressed to Miss Marchmont,
which he begged me to deliver with his respectful services to my
much-esteemed lady. He concluded with announcing some public news of
a nature highly gratifying to every Briton, in the detail of a great
victory obtained by our fleet over the Dutch admiral, De Ruyter. It
was that, my Helen, in which your noble brother fell, a the moment of
obtaining one of the most signal successes hitherto recorded in the
naval annals of our country. You were too young to be conscious of the
public sympathy testified towards this intrepid and unfortunate man,
but I may safely affirm with the crafty Buckingham, that his loss dearly
purchased even the splendid victory he had obtained. 'What news from the
court,' said Theresa, as I entered the apartment in which she sat.

"'At once good and bad,' I replied. 'We have obtained a brilliant
victory over De Ruyter; but alas! it has cost us the lives of several of
our most distinguished officers.'

"She started from her seat, and wildly approaching me, whispered in a
tone of suppressed agony, 'Tell me--tell me truly--_is he dead_?'

"'Of whom do you speak?'

"'Of _him_--of my beloved--my bethrothed--of Percy, my own Percy,--'
said she with frantic violence.

"Helen--even then, heart-struck as I was, I could not but pity the
unfortunate being whose very apprehensions were thus agonizing. I dared
not answer her--I dared not summon assistance, lest she should betray
herself to others as she had done to her husband; for she had lost all
self-command. I attempted to pacify her by an indefinite reply to her
inquiries, but in vain. 'Do not deceive me,' said she, 'Greville, you
were ever good and generous; tell me did he know all, did he curse me,
did he seek his death?

"It occurred to me that the letter which I held in my hand might be
from--from her dead lover; and with a sensation of loathing, I gave it
to her. She tore it open, and a lock of hair dropped from the envelope.
I found afterwards that it contained a few words of farewell, dictated
by Percy in his dying moments; and this sufficiently accounted for the
state of mind into which its perusal plunged the unhappy Theresa. Before
night she was a raving maniac, and in this state she was delivered of a
dead infant.

"Need I describe my own feelings? need I tell you of the bitter
disappointment of my heart in finding myself thus cruelly deceived? I
had ventured all my hopes of earthly happiness on Theresa's affection;
and one evil hour had seen the wreck of all! The eventful moment to
which I had looked forward as that which was to confirm the blessings I
held by the most sacred of ties, had brought with it misery and despair;
for I was childless, and could scarcely still acknowledge myself a
husband, till I knew how far I had been betrayed. Yet when I looked upon
the ill-starred and suffering being before me, my angry feelings became
appeased, and the words of reviling and bitterness expired upon my lips.

"Amid the ravings of her delirium the unfortunate Theresa alternately
called upon Percy and myself, to defend her against the arts of her
enemies, to save her from the King. 'They seek my dishonour,' she would
say with the most touching expression, 'and alas! I am fatherless!'
From the vehemence of her indignation whenever she mentioned the name
of Charles, I became at length persuaded that some painful mystery
connected with my marriage remained to be unfolded; and the papers which
her estrangement of mind necessarily threw into my hands, soon made me
acquainted with her eventful history. Such was the compassion with which
it inspired me for the innocent and injured Theresa, that I have sat by
her bedside, and wept for very pity to hear her address her Percy--her
lost and beloved Percy, and at other times call down the vengeance of
heaven upon the king, for his licentious and cruel tyranny.

"It was during her residence on the coast of Devonshire that she formed
an acquaintance with Lord Hugh Percy, whose ship was stationed at a
neighbouring port. They became strongly attached to each other; and with
the buoyant incautiousness of youth, had already plighted their faith
before it occurred to either, that her want of birth and fortune would
render her unacceptable to his parents knowing, which he did, that they
entered very different views for his future establishment in life, he
dared not at present even make them acquainted with his engagement; and
it was therefore mutually agreed between them that she should accept the
proffered services of Lady Wriothesly for an introduction to the royal
notice, and that he in the mean while, should seek in his profession the
means of their future subsistence. Secure in their mutual good faith,
they parted, and it was on this occasion that he had given her a song,
which in her insanity she was constantly repeating. The refrain, 'Addio
Teresa, Teresa Addio,' I remembered to have heard murmured by the Duke
of Buckingham with a very significant expression, on the night when the
agitation of Lady Greville had made itself so painfully apparent in the
circle of the Queen.

"You will believe with what indignation, with what disgust, I discovered
that shortly after her appointment at court, she had been persecuted
with the licentious addresses of the king. It was nothing new to me that
Charles, in the selfish indulgence of his passions, overlooked every
barrier of honour and decency, but that the unprotected innocence of the
daughter of an old and faithful servant, whose very life-blood had been
poured forth in his defence, should not have been a safeguard in his
eyes, was indeed incredible and revolting. But it was this orphan
helplessness, this afflicting destitution which marked her for his prey.

"Encompassed by the toils of the spoiler, and friendless as she was, the
unhappy Theresa knew not to whom to apply for succour or counsel; and
in this painful exigence, she could only trust to her own discretion
and purity of intention to shield her from the advances from which she
shrunk with horror. Irritated by the opposition he encountered, and
astonished by that dignity of virtue, which, 'severe in youthful
beauty,' had power to awe even a monarch in the consciousness of guilt,
the king by the most ungenerous private scrutiny of her correspondence,
made himself acquainted with her attachment to Lord Hugh; and while she
was eagerly looking for the arrival of the ship which contained her
only protector, the authority of His Majesty prolonged its station in a
distant and unhealthy climate, where her letters did not reach him, and
whence his aid could avail her nothing.

"In this dilemma, when the death of Lady Wriothesly had deprived her of
even the semblance of a friend, I was first presented to Miss Marchmont.
The motive of the king in encouraging my attachment I can hardly guess,
unless the thought to fix her at court by her marriage, where some
future change of sentiment might throw her into his power; or possibly
he hoped to make my addresses the means of separating her from the real
object of her attachment, without contemplating a farther result, and
thus the same wanton selfishness which rendered him regardless of every
tie of moral feeling towards Theresa, led him to prepare a life of
misery and dishonour for his early friend and faithful adherent.

"Agitated by a daily and hourly exposure to the importunities of
Charles; insulted by the suspicions which the insinuations of
Buckingham had excited in the minds of her companions;
friendless--Helpless--hopeless--dreading that she might be betrayed by
her ignorance of the world into some unforeseen evil, and knowing that
even in the event of Percy's return, her engagement with him must long
remain unfulfilled, the unhappy girl naturally looked upon her union
with me as the only deliverance from the assailing misfortunes; and in
an hour of desperation she gave me her hand. That her strongest efforts
of mind had been exerted, from the moment of her marriage, to banish all
remembrance of her former lover I firmly believe. The letter acquainting
him with the breach of faith which her miserable destiny seemed to
render inevitable, had never reached him, and happily, alas! how happily
for him, his last earthly thoughts were permitted to rest on Theresa, as
his beloved and affianced wife. I am persuaded that had he returned
in safety to his native country, she would have avoided his society as
studiously as she did that of the king; and that had she been spared the
blow which deprived her of reason, her dutiful regard, and in time her
devoted affection, would have been mine as firmly, as through the vows
which gave them to my hopes and been untainted by any former passion.
As it was, we were both victims. I, to her misfortunes--she through the
brutality of the king.

"It appeared to me that on our return to court after our ill-fated
union, the king had for some time refrained from his former insulting
importunities; and had merely distressed Lady Greville by indulging in
a mockery of respectful deference, which exposed her to the ridicule
of those around her who could not fail to observe his change of manner.
Perceiving by my unconstrained expressions of grateful acknowledgment
for his furtherance of my marriage with Theresa that she had kept
his secret, and incapable of appreciating that purity of mind, which
rendered such an avowal difficult, even to her husband; and that
prudence which foresaw the evils resulting to both from such a
disclosure, he drew false inferences from her discretion, and gradually
resumed his former levities. Nor was this the only evil with which she
had now to contend. Some malicious enemy had profited by her absences to
poison the mind of the queen, with jealous suspicions of her favourite,
and to inspire her with belief, that Miss Marchmont's propriety
of demeanour in public, had only been a successful mask of private
indiscretion; and that Charles had not been an unsuccessful lover.

"Unwilling to confide to me the difficulties by which she was assailed,
unable alone to steer among the rocks that impeded her course, Theresa
at length adopted the bold measure of confiding her whole tale to her
royal mistress; whose knowledge of the king's infidelities was already
too accurate to admit of an increase of affliction from this new proof;
and on receiving a letter from the avowed friend of her husband--the
grateful patron of her dead father--the august Father of his people,
containing the most insolent declarations of passion, she vindicated
her innocence by placing it in the hands of the Queen; at the same time
entreating permission that her further services might be dispersed
with. Her Majesty's reply, equally gratifying and affectionate, you have
already seen; and it was in savage and unmanly revenge towards Theresa,
for the frankness and decision of her conduct, that the king had
directed his favorite to enclose me that letter whose sudden perusal
had wrought the destruction of my unhappy wife. You will easily conceive
that the terms of my answer to the Duke of Buckingham were those of
unmeasured indignation--yet he, the parasite, the ready instrument of
royal vice, and the malignant associate of Charles in his last act of
premeditated cruelty, suffered the accusations of the injured husband to
pass unnoticed and unrepelled; and I am persuaded that nothing but the
dread of exposure prevented me from feeling the full abuse of the
power of the crown by the master I had served with so much fidelity
and affection. I have never since that period held direct or indirect
communication with a court where the basest treachery had been my only
reward.

"For many months the paroxysms of Lady Greville's distemper were so
violent as to require the strictest confinement; and the medical man
who attended her assured me that when this state of irritation should
subside, she would either be restored entirely to the full exercise of
her mental faculties, or be plunged into a state of apathy, of tranquil
but confirmed dejection, from which, although it might not affect her
bodily health, she would never recover. How anxiously did I watch for
this crisis of her disorder! and yet at times I scarcely wished her
to awake to a keener sense of her afflictions; for being incapable of
recognising my person in my frequent visits to her chamber, I have
heard her address me in her wanderings for pardon and pity. 'Forgive me,
Greville, forgive me,' she would say. 'Remember how forlorn a wretch I
shall become, when thou too, like the rest, shalt abandon and persecute
me. Am I not thy wedded wife, and as faithful as I am miserable! am I
not the mother of thy child? and yet I know not;--for I seek my poor
infant, and they will not, will not, give it to me--tell me,' she
whispered with a ghastly smile, 'have they buried it in the raging sea
with him whom I must not name?'

"The decisive moment arrived; and Lady Greville's insanity was, in
the opinion of her physicians and attendants, confirmed for life. She
relapsed into that state of composed but decided aberration of mind, in
which she still remains. I soon observed that my presence alone appeared
to retain the power of irritating her feelings; and she seemed to shrink
instinctively from every person with whom she had been in habits of
intercourse previous to her misfortune. I therefore consigned this
helpless sufferer to the charge of the nurse of my own infancy, Alice
Wishart; whom, from her constant residence at the Cross, Lady Greville
had never seen.

"This trustworthy woman, and her husband, who was also an hereditary
retainer of our house, willingly devoted themselves to the melancholy
service required; and hateful as Silsea had now become to my feelings,
I broke up in part my establishment and became a restless and unhappy
wanderer, seeking, in vain, oblivion of the past, or hope for the
future. Would to God I had possessed sufficient fortitude to remain
chained to the isolation of my miserable home! for then had we never
met; and thou, my Helen, wouldst have escaped this hour of shame and
sorrow."



CHAPTER IV.


  "Courteous Lord--one word--
Sir, you and I have lov'd--but that's not it--
   Sir, you and I must part."--_ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA_


"Hitherto I have had to dwell in my recitation on the vices and
frailties of my brothers of the dust, and to describe myself as an
innocent sufferer; but I now approach a period of my life, from the
mention of which I shrink with well-grounded apprehensions. Yet judge
me with candour; remember the strength of the temptation through which I
erred; and divesting yourself, if possible, of the recollection of your
own injuries, moderate your resentment against an unfortunate being, who
for many long years of his existence has not enjoyed one easy hour.

"It was nearly three years after the period to which I have alluded that
an accident of which I need not remind you, my beloved Helen, introduced
me to the acquaintance of your family. You may remember the backwardness
with which I first received their approaches; the very name of Percy had
become ominously painful to me, and yet it inspired me with a strange
and undefinable interest. A spell appeared to attract me towards you,
and in spite of my first resolution to the contrary, in spite of
the melancholy reserve that still dwelt upon my mind, I became an
acquaintance, and at length the favoured inmate and friend, of your
father. Could I imagine the dangers that lurked beneath his roof? could
I believe that while I thus once more indulged in the social converse
to which I had been long a stranger, I should gain the affections of
his child? The playful girl towards whom my age enabled me to assume
an almost parental authority, while I exercised, in turn, the parts
of playmate and preceptor, beloved as she was in all the charms of
her dawning beauty, and artless naiveté, inspired me with no deeper
sentiment; not even when I saw her gradually expand into the maturer
pride of womanhood, and acquire that feminine gentleness, that dignified
simplicity of character, which had attracted me in Theresa Marchmont.
Early in our intercourse, I had acquainted Lord Percy that the
confinement of a beloved wife in a state of mental derangement, was the
unhappy cause of my dejection and wandering habits of life; and I was
rejoiced to perceive that his own seclusion from the world had prevented
him from hearing my history related by others. He was also ignorant
of the name and connexions of the lady to whom he knew his beloved and
lamented son to have been attached; little indeed did he suspect his own
share in producing my domestic calamity.

"The disparity of our years, and their knowledge of my own previous
marriage, prevented them from regarding with suspicion the partiality
displayed by their Helen for my society, and the influence which I had
unconsciously acquired over her feelings. For a length of time I was
myself equally blind, and the moment I ventured to fear the dangers
of the attachment she was beginning to form. I took the resolution of
tearing myself altogether from her society, and without the delay of an
hour, I returned to Silsea.

"But what a scene did I select to reconcile me to the loss of the
cheerful society I had abandoned! My deserted home seemed haunted by
the shadows of the past, and tenanted only by remembrances of former
affliction. In my hour of loneliness and sorrow, I had no kind friend
to whom to turn for consolation; and for the first time the sterile and
gloomy waste over which my future path of life was appointed, filled me
with emotions of terror and regret. My very existence appeared blighted
through the treachery of others; and all those holy ties which enrich
the evening of our days with treasures far clearer than awaited us
even into the morning of youth, appeared withheld from me, and me only.
Helen, it was then, in that moment of disappointment and bitterness,
that the remembrance of thy loveliness, and the suspicion of thine
affection conspired to from that fatal passion which has been the bane
of thy happiness, and the origin of my guilt.

"Avoiding as I scrupulously did the range of apartments inhabited by the
unfortunate Lady Greville, several years had passed since I had beheld
her; and sometimes when I had been bewildered in the reveries of my own
desolate heart, began to doubt her very existence. Yet this unseen
being who appeared to occupy no place in the scale of human nature, this
unconscious creature who now dwelt in my remembrance like the unreal
mockery of a dream, presented an insuperable obstacle to my happiness. I
saw my inheritance destined to be wrenched from me

  "'By an unlineal hand
   No son of mine succeedingly,'

"and I felt myself doomed to resign every enjoyment and every hope for
the sake of one to whom the sacrifice availed nothing; one, too, who had
permitted me to fold her to my heart in the full confidence of undivided
affection, while her own was occupied by a passion whose violence had
deprived me of my child, and herself of intellect and health.

"Such were the arguments by which I strove to blind myself to my rising
passion for another, and to smother the self-reproaches which assailed
me when I first conceived the fatal project of imposing upon the world
by the supposed death of my wife, and of seeking your hand in marriage.
How often did the better feelings of my nature recoil from such an act
of villainy--how often was my project abandoned, how often resumed at
the alternate bidding of passion and of virtue! I will not repeat the
idle sophistry which served to complete my wilful blindness; nor dare
I degrade myself in your eyes by a confession of the tissue of
contemptible fraud and hypocrisy into which I was necessarily betrayed
by the execution of my dark designs. Oh! Helen--this heart of mine was
once honest, once good and true as thine own; but now there crawls not
on this earth a wretch whose lying lips have uttered falsehoods more
villainous than mine! and honour, the characteristic of the ancient
house I have disgraced, the best attribute of the high calling I have
polluted, is now a watchword of dismay to my ear.

"In Alice Wishart and her husband I found ready instruments for the
completion of my purpose; and indeed the difficulties which awaited
me were even fewer than I had first anticipated. The ravings of Lady
Greville, and her distracted addresses to the name of her lover had
inspired her attendants with a believe of her guiltiness, which in the
beginning of her illness I had vainly attempted to combat. It was not
therefore to be expected that these faithful adherents of my family,
who loved me with an almost parental devotion, and whose regret for
the extinction of the name of Greville was the ruling passion of their
breasts, should consider her an object worthy the sacrifice of my
entire happiness. The few scruples they exhibited were those rather of
expediency than of conscience were easily overcome. By their own desire
they removed to Greville Cross for the more ready furtherance of our
guilty plan; under pretence that the health of the unfortunate Theresa
required change of air. On their arrival they found it easy to impress
the servants of the establishment with a belief of her precarious state,
and the nature of her malady afforded them a plausible pretext for
secluding her from their observation and attendance. Accustomed to
receive from Alice a daily account of her declining condition, the
announcement of her death excited no surprise. In a few weeks after her
journey, a fictitious funeral completed our system of deception.

"The moment when, according to our concerted plan, the death and
interment of Lady Greville were formally announced to me, I repented
of the detestable scheme which had been successfully executed. My soul
revolted from the part of 'excellent dissembling' I had yet to act;
and refused to sloop to a public exhibition of feigned affliction. I
shuddered, too, when I contemplated the shame which awaited me, should
some future event, yet hidden in the lap of time, reveal to the world
the secret villainy of the man who had borne himself so proudly among
his fellows. Yet even these regrets, even the apprehension of fresh
difficulties in the concealment of my crime, were insufficient to deter
me from the prosecution of my original intention; and blinded by the
intemperance of misguided affection, heedless of the shame and misery
into which I was about to plunge the woman I adored, I sought and
obtained your hand.

"Helen, from that moment I have not known one happy hour, and the first
punishment dealt upon my sin was an incapability to enjoy that affection
for which I have forfeited all claim to mercy, here and hereafter. The
remembrance of Theresa, not in her present state of self-abstraction,
but captivating as when she first received my vows before God, to 'love
and honour her, in sickness and in health,' haunted me through every
scene of domestic endearment, and pursued me even to the hearth whose
household deities I had blasphemed. I trembled when I heard my Helen
addressed as Lady Greville, when I saw her usurping the rights, and
occupying the place of one, who now appeared a nameless 'link between
the living and the dead.' I could not gaze upon the woman whose
affections had been so partially, so disinterestedly bestowed upon me,
and whose existence I had in return polluted by a pretended marriage.--I
could not behold of my boy, the descendant of two of the noblest houses
in Britain, yet upon whom the stain of illegitimacy might hereafter
rest, without feelings of self-accusation which filled the cup of life
with the waters of bitterness. Alas! its very springs were poisoned--and
Helen, however strong, however just thine indignation against thy
betrayer, believe, oh! believe that even in this life I have endured
no trifling measure of punishment for my deep offences against thee and
thine!

"But such is the frailty of human nature that it was upon these very
victims I suffered the effects of my remorse and mental agony to all.
The ill-suppressed violence of my temper, irritated by the dangers of
my situation, has already caused you many a sorrowful moment; and the
increase of gloom you must have lately perceived, has originated in the
fresh difficulties arising to me from the death of the husband of Alice;
and the dread of her own approaching dissolution. From these causes
my present visit to this dreary abode was determined, and to them I
am indebted for the premature disclosure which has made her life as
wretched as my own. The sickness of her surviving attendant has latterly
allowed more liberty to the unhappy Theresa than her condition renders
safe either to her or me. I could not on my arrival here collect
sufficient resolution to look upon her; and to adopt those measures
of security which the weakness of Alice has left disregarded. To this
infirmity of purpose on my part must be ascribed the dreadful shock
you sustained by the sudden appearance of the unfortunate maniac, who I
conclude was attracted to your apartment by the long-forgotten sound
of music. On that fatal evening your fall awoke me from my sleep; and
I then perceived my Helen lying insensible on the floor; and
Theresa--yes--the altered and to me terrible figure of Theresa, bending
over her. For one dreadful moment I believed that you had fallen a
victim to her insanity.

"And now Helen--my injured, but fondly beloved Helen, now that my tale
of evil is fully disclosed, resolve at once the doom of my future being.
Yet in mercy be prompt in your decision; and whether you determine to
unfold to the whole world the measure of my guilt, or, since nothing can
now extricate us from the web of sin and shame in which we are involved,
to assist in shielding me from a discovery which would be fatal to the
interests of our innocent child, let me briefly hear the result of your
judgment. Of this alone it remains for me to assure you--that I will not
one single hour survive the publication of my dishonour."


For several hours succeeding the perusal of the forgoing history, Lady
Greville remained chained as it were to her seat by the bewildering
perplexities of her mind. The blow, in itself so sudden, so fraught
with mischiefs, involving a thousand interests, and affording no hope
to lessen its infliction, appeared to stupify her faculties. Lost in the
contemplation of evils from which no worldly resource availed to save
herself or her child, indignation, compassion, and despair, by turns
obtained possession of her bosom. Her first impulse, worthy of her
gentle nature, was to rush to the bed-side of her sleeping boy, and
there, on her knees, to implore divine aid to shelter his unoffending
innocence, and grace to enlighten her mind in the choice of her future
destiny. And He, who in dealing the wound of affliction, refuseth not,
to those who seek it, the balm that softens its endurance, imparted to
her soul a fortitude to bear, and a wisdom to extricate herself from the
perils by which she was assailed. The following letter acquainted Lord
Greville with her final determination:


"Greville,--I was about, in the inadvertence of my bewildered mind, to
address you once more by the title of husband; but that holy name must
hereafter perish on my lips, and be banished like a withering curse from
my heart. Yet it was that alone which, holding a sacred charter over my
bosom, bound me to the cheerful endurance of many a bitter hour, ere I
knew that through him who bore it, a descendant of the house of
Percy would be banded as an adulteress; and her child as the nameless
offspring of shame. Rich as I was in worldly gifts, my birth, my
character, the fair fortunes which you have blighted, and the parental
care from which you have withdrawn me, alike appeared to shelter me
from the evils which have befallen me--but wo is me! Even these were an
insufficient protection against the craftiness of mine enemy!

"But reproaches avail me not. Henceforth I will shut up my sorrow and my
complaining within the solitude of my own wounded heart--and thou, 'my
companion, my counsellor, mine own familiar friend,' the beloved of
my early youth, the father of my child, must be from this hour be as
nothing unto me!

"Hear my decision. Since one who has already trampled upon every tie,
divine and human, at the instigation of his won evil passions, would
scarcely be deterred from further wickedness by any argument of mine, I
dare not tempt the mischief contemplated by your ungovernable feelings
against your life. I will, therefore, solemnly engage to assist you by
every means in my power in the preservation of the secret on which your
very existence appears to depend. As the first measure towards this
object, I will myself undertake that attendance of Lady Greville, which
cannot be otherwise procured without peril of disclosure. Towards this
unfortunate being, my noble brother's betrothed wife, whose interests
have been sacrificed to mine, no sisterly care, no affectionate
watchfulness shall be wanting on my part, to lessen the measure of
her afflictions. I will remain with her at Greville Cross; sharing the
duties of Alice so long as she shall live, and supplying her place when
she shall be no more. I feel that God has doomed my proud spirit to the
humiliation of this trial; and I trust in his goodness that I may have
strength cheerfully and worthily to fulfil my part. From you I have one
condition to exact in return.

"Henceforward we must meet no more in this world. I can pity you--I
can even forgive you,--but I cannot yet school my heart to that
forgetfulness of the past, that indifference, with which I ought to
regard the husband of another. Greville! we must not meet no more!

"And since my son will shortly attain an age when seclusion in this
remote spot would be prejudicial to his interests and to the formation
of his character, I pray you to take him from me at once, that I may
have no further sacrifice to contemplate. Let him reside with you
at Silsea, under the tuition of proper instructors--breed him up in
nobleness and truth--and let not his early nurture, and the care with
which I have sought to instil into his mind principles of honour and
virtue, be utterly lost. Let his happiness be the pledge of my dutiful
fulfilment of the task I have undertaken; and may God desert me and him,
when I fail through negligence or hardness of heart.

"And if at times the stigma of his birth should present itself to
irritate your mind against his helpless innocence, as alas! I
have latterly witnessed, smite him not, Greville, in your guilty
wrath--remember he is come of gentle blood, even on his mother's
side--and ask yourself to _whom_ we owe our degradation, and from whose
quiver the arrow was launched against us? And now farewell--may the
Almighty enlighten and forgive you--and if in this address there appears
a trace of bitterness, do not ascribe it to any uncharitable feelings,
but look back upon the past, and think on what I was--on what I am.
Consider whether ever woman loved or trusted as I have done, or was ever
more cruelly betrayed? Oh! Greville, Greville!--did I not regard you
with an affection too intense for my happiness! did I not confide in you
with a reverence, a veneration unmeet to be lavished on a creature
of clay? But you have broken the fragile idol of my worship before my
eyes--and the after-path of my life is dark with fear and loneliness.
But be it so; my soul was proud of its good gifts--and now that I am
stricken to the dust, its vanity is laid bare to my sight--haply, 'it is
good for me that I have been afflicted.'--Farewell for ever."


The conditions of this letter were mutually and strictly fulfilled;
but the mental struggle sustained by Lord Greville, his humiliation on
witnessing the saintlike self-devotion of Helen Percy, combined with the
necessity which rendered it expedient to accept her proffered sacrifice,
were too much for his frame. In less than a year after his return to
Silsea, he died--a prey to remorse.

Previous to his decease, in contemplation of the nobleness of mind
which would probably induce the nominal Lady Greville to renounce
his succession, he framed two testamentary acts. By one of these, he
acknowledged the nullity of his second marriage, but bequeathed to Helen
and her child all that the law of the land enabled him to bestow; by the
other he referred to Helen only as his lawful wife, and to her son as
his representative and successor; adding to their legal inheritance
all his unentailed property. Both were enclosed in a letter to Lady
Greville, written on his death-bed, which left it entirely at her own
disposal, _which_ to publish, _which_ to destroy.

It is not to be supposed that the selection cost her one moment's
hesitation. Having resigned into the hands of the lawful inheritor all
that the strictest probity could require, and much that his admiration
of her magnanimity would have prevailed on her to retain, she retired
peaceably to a mansion in the South bequeathed by Lord Greville to her
son, and occupied herself solely with his education. In the commencement
of the ensuring reign he obtained the royal sanction to use the name
and arms of Percy; and in his grateful affection and the virtuous
distinctions he early attained, his mother met with her reward.

Theresa, the helpless Theresa, the guardian-ship of whose person had
been bequeathed to Helen, as a mournful legacy, by Lord Greville, was
removed with her from her dreary imprisonment at the Cross, and to the
latest moment of her existence partook of her affectionate and watchful
attention.

It was a touching sight to behold these two unfortunate beings, linked
together by ties of so painful a nature, and dwelling together In
companionship. The one, richly gifted with youthful loveliness, clad in
a deep mourning habit, and bearing on her countenance an air of
fixed dejection. The other, though far her elder in years, still
beautiful,--with her long silver hair, blanched by sorrow, not by
time, hanging over her shoulders; and wearing, as if in mockery of her
unconscious widowhood, the gaudy and embroidered raiment to which a
glimmering remembrance of happier times appeared to attach her--that
vacant smile and wandering glance of insanity lending at times a
terrible brilliancy to her features. But for the most part her malady
assumed a cast of settled melancholy, and patient as

  "The female dove ere yet her golden couplets are disclosed,
   Her silence would sit drooping."

Her gentleness and submission would have endeared her to a guardian even
less tenderly interested in her fate than Helen Percy; towards
whom, from her first interview, she had evinced the most gratifying
partiality. "I know you," she said on beholding her. "You have the look
and voice of Percy; you are a ministering angel whom he has sent
to defend his poor Theresa from the King; now that she is sad and
friendless. You will never abandon me, will you?" continued she, taking
her hand and pressing it to her bosom.

"Never--never--so help me heaven!" answered the agitated Helen; and that
sacred promise remained unbroken.





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