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to which your reputation is exposed by Lord Nottingham's imprudence.”
“ I am aware of no imprudence,” rejoined Lady Annandale, proudly; "and my reputation depends on myself alone.”
I now endeavoured to explain to Miss Montressor, how my dining at Lord Vernon's, when I expected to dine at Annandale House, occurred; but she provokingly answered, “ that, altogether, it was a very unfortunate mistake, and had done much mischief."
“I will, however,” she added, “ go and write two lines to the Comtesse Hohenlinden, to explain the circumstance, and prevent her, if not yet too late, from retailing her version of
the affair to all the town.”
She then hurried from the apartment before I had time to say a word, retreating by a private door that leads to her room.
She had not been gone ten minutes, when the other door of the room was attempted to be opened, but in vain. We, for a few moments, passively heard the efforts, concluding that each would succeed; till, finding that they did not, I went to ascertain the cause—when, to my perfect astonishment, I discovered that the door
was fastened on the inside.
This atrocious act could only have been perpetrated intentionally, and by Miss Montressor; for no one except her had approached that door since I had entered it: and a conviction of the
most execrable treachery instantly flashed across
When I opened the door, the groom of the chambers and one of the footmen were there; and the expression of their countenances fully explained the vile suspicions this insidious deed had induced them to entertain.
Lady Annandale's appearance, too, was, most unfortunately, more likely to confirm
than check their impressions; for she was greatly agitated, and in an almost fainting state.
The groom of the chambers presented her with a billet, and then withdrew, and she confirmed my worst suspicions of treachery, by stating that it was from Miss Montressor.
There is some dark plot hatching against the honour and peace of Lady Annandale, I am now convinced; and I am, probably, intended to be made the instrument of it. Why else was the door fastened inside ere Miss Montressor withdrew ? and why write a note instead of coming back in person, if she had aught to
This maneuvre must have been practised to furnish the servants with an opportunity of discovering that the door was locked. Yes, there must be some vile scheme in contemplation; but what can be the motive ? Bad as my opinion of Miss Montressor has ever been, and capable as I think her of much vice, still I can see no adequate reason for her connivance in a conspiracy, the sole object of which must be the ruin of a person I believe her really to like.
“ Leave me, Lord Nottingham,” said Lady Annandale, pale as death ; “ I am not well, and wish to retire to my chamber.”
I obeyed her commands; and, as I passed through the hall, observed the servants all whispering and eyeing me, in a manner that convinced me they had formed the most injurious suspicions. Never shall I forgive myself, if, through the frequency of my visits, I have exposed the fair fame of the most innocent, as well as the most lovely, woman in the world to animadversion.
Yes, you were right; I ought to have fled from her too dangerous presence when I first discovered that I loved her : but that love was and is so pure, and so wholly devoid of
hope, that I madly fancied its indulgence could not profane its idol.
I hate myself when I think, that to me this angelic creature owes the humiliation of hearing a lecture on prudence from the lips of such a woman as Miss Montressor as unworthy to approach, as she is incapable of appreciating, her.
On leaving Annandale House, I proceeded to Lord Vernon's, where I found the good old couple gravely talking together.
“ Do you know, my dear lord, we are not quite satisfied with the conduct of your friend, and our son-in-law," said Lord Vernon to
Why, would you believe it,” added Lady Vernon, “he has not once seen us since we came to town; for, though he called yesterday and was informed we were at home, he never offered to come in, but merely left his card and drove off.” « Sir William Vernon,